Parenting Plan & Custody Lawyer In Missoula

At Jones & Cook, our Montana Family Law experts have been helping parents in Montana achieve positive and lasting results in matters of Child Custody. If you need to establish a workable Parenting Plan that protects and promotes your child’s best interests, we can help. We understand there is nothing more important to you than your children. To schedule a Free Consultation to discuss your concerns regarding legal and physical custody, contact our office in Missoula today at (406) 543-3800.

Every family is unique, and ideally parents can cooperate outside of court to develop a Parenting Plan that matches their specific situation. That kind of cooperation may not always be easy, especially when the parents are in the process of a Divorce. It is crucial, to have skilled legal guidance to help you develop a Parenting Plan that is best for all parties involved.

At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law, we can help you achieve your Child Custody and Child Support goals, whether through negotiation with the other parent or by aggressively protecting your rights in court. We also handle post-decree modifications such as Parental Relocation proceedings and changes to Child Support. You can rely on Jones & Cook to protect your rights and interests every step of the way.

To schedule a Free Consultation with skilled and dedicated lawyer, contact us at our offices in Missoula at (406) 543-3800. We will return your phone call as soon as possible.

Montana Parenting Plans And Child Custody Modifications

Parenting Plans

In Montana Child Custody laws are referred to as Parenting, and comply with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, while also allowing Grandparent Rights and Joint Custody. Montana state laws use the term “parenting” in order to promote the idea that both parents should be involved in their children’s lives. During the process for Divorce, unless both parents can agree on a Parenting Plan, the court will determine the terms of your parenting agreement.

Much like a Business Contract, a Parenting Plan is an agreement between Divorced or Separated parents which lays out the terms and conditions for raising your children. Parenting Plans cover subjects like the rights and responsibilities of each parent, Child Custody, visitation arrangements, Child Support, medical care and any other factor which impacts the best interests of your child.

In Montana, Parenting Plans are used by family court to determine Custody, including when and where each parent will be with and responsible for each child, and who is responsible for decision-making and financial welfare of the child. Both parents are required to submit a proposed Parenting Plan to the court, outlining their proposed custody arrangement. A final Parenting Plan includes the designation of a parent as primary custodian, the naming of the physical residence of the child, the details about shared financial responsibilities to provide for the child, and factors related to the physical and mental well-being of a child.

Montana parenting plans must be extremely detailed and should include a parental visitation schedule outlining where will your child will live during the school year; which parent will have the child on weeknights or weekends; where your child will spend each holiday, break from school and birthday. Even in situations where your Divorce or Separation is amicable, it’s important to be sure your Parenting Plan is rock solid and adheres to the requirements of the court, because a judge will review your parenting plan to ensure that it serves your child’s best interests.

Arrange A Free Consultation

It is highly recommended you very seriously consider hiring an experienced Child Custody attorney to help you draft your parenting plan. The legal team at Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law are well versed in the nuances of Montana Family Law and know exactly what information needs to be included to ensure your parenting plan runs smoothly. You do not want to end up in court every year trying to adjust and modify your plan because it was drafted improperly to begin with; or worse still, end up in a situation where the court will create a parenting plan for you. Bradley J. Jones can help ensure your Parenting Plan meets your child’s needs and the court’s requirements by taking all the important details into consideration. Call us now for your Free Consultation to discuss your Parenting Plan needs, (406) 543-3800 .

Frequently Asked Questions

A Parenting Plan is a detailed, written outline providing for parenting in consideration of the best interests of the children. Parenting Plans contain an allocation of parenting responsibilities, the establishment of a residential schedule, and an allocation of Child Support. A schedule outlines when the children are in each parent’s physical care and designates the residential parent. The schedule also details in which parent’s home the children shall reside on given days of the year, including provisions for holidays, birthdays, vacations and other special occasions.

Most Parenting Plans will read: “Each parent will make decisions regarding the day-to-day care and control of each child while the child is residing with that parent.” Most parenting decisions fall under the “day-to-day” designation.

Yes, the court will consider the child’s wishes. However, courts do not look favorably upon a child being coerced or coached. Courts frown upon involving a child in such a difficult situation, particularly that of choosing between parents, and attempt to keep the child out of the center of the litigation.

The child’s history is very important, particularly if a child seems to be well-adjusted. Courts are less likely to disrupt an acceptable situation in favor of the unknown. All things being equal, maintaining stability can be one of a judge’s most important concerns.

Courts want to keep siblings together. In order to split siblings, there must be a compelling reason. Even if the divorcing parents agree to split siblings, the court must ultimately approve the proposed arrangement as being in the best interests of the children.

Allegations of abuse are relevant and important, but not necessarily controlling. Where abuse is shown to have affected the children, the court will consider this along with the other factors discussed above. Courts look at abuse allegations closely. If the court finds abuse has been present between spouses, it must make specific findings on the subject.

The parent has final decision-making authority over decisions regarding all care and control of each child, including as to topics such as education, health care, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing. However, this does not eliminate the requirement of that parent to share information, consult and discuss important information.

Yes, if the move is determined to be in the best interest of the child. Timely notice must be given and written consent of the other parent, or a court order must be obtained. Consulting a family law attorney well in advance of moving is advised. See the relocation section of this website for more specific information.

There must be a significant and continuing change of circumstance. The modification must again be determined to be in the best interest of the child.

The child’s preference for a change of residence or custody will not, by itself, constitute a sufficient cause for modification. Even if a child’s feelings are very strong, the child’s preference will be just one factor. If the child is older, the court will give more weight to the child’s preference. The court may well question the child’s motive or inquire as to whether inducements have been made by the proposed custodial or residential parent.

In a joint custody situation, parents share the final decision-making authority on all matters of substance related to the child’s general health, education and welfare, including religion. Consultation and agreement is required between parents. Most parenting plans will require mandatory mediation prior to asking the court to resolve the dispute. Joint custody decisions generally do not include day-to-day meals, bedtime or routine when with one parent or another.

Divorcing parents must file a parenting plan with the court. If parents cannot decide how to resolve a specific issue, the court will make a determination based on the child’s “best interests.”

Montana has guidelines to determine child support based upon the total income of both parents. Daycare, insurance, and medical costs are included in the computation. The guidelines allocate the amounts to be paid by each parent, taking into account financial resources of the parents and children, the children’s needs, and the standard of living the children would have enjoyed had the parents stayed married.

Family lawyers handle legal issues that involve your family members; including marriage, domestic disputes, divorce, property negotiations, and lawsuits.

A custody lawyer will advocate for you in mediation and disputes involving your children, including: becoming the primary caregiver of after a separation or divorce; guide you through paperwork; represent you in court; negotiate child support.

Yes. If you recently went through a divorce or separation, a child custody attorney is necessary if your family lawyer has no child custody experience.