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Montana

  40-4-213. Interim parenting plan. (1) A party to a parenting proceeding may move for an interim parenting plan. The motion must be supported by an affidavit as provided in 40-4-220(1). The court may adopt an interim parenting plan under the standards of 40-4-212 after a hearing or under the standards of 40-4-212 and 40-4-220(2) before a hearing. If there is no objection, the court may act solely on the basis of the affidavits.
     (2) If a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation is dismissed, any interim parenting plan is vacated unless a parent moves that the proceeding continue as a parenting proceeding and the court finds, after a hearing, that the circumstances of the parents and the best interests of the child require that a parenting plan be adopted. A child support delinquency existing at the time that an interim parenting plan is vacated remains a judgment subject to collection.
     (3) If a parenting proceeding commenced in the absence of a petition for dissolution of marriage or legal separation is dismissed, any interim parenting plan is vacated. A child support delinquency existing at the time that an interim parenting plan is vacated remains a judgment subject to collection.
     (4) Adoption of a final parenting plan under 40-4-234 vacates any interim parenting plan adopted under this section. A child support delinquency existing at the time that an interim parenting plan is vacated remains a judgment subject to collection.

     40-4-212. Best interest of child. (1) The court shall determine the parenting plan in accordance with the best interest of the child. The court shall consider all relevant parenting factors, which may include but are not limited to:
     (a) the wishes of the child's parent or parents;
     (b) the wishes of the child;
     (c) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child's parent or parents and siblings and with any other person who significantly affects the child's best interest;
     (d) the child's adjustment to home, school, and community;
     (e) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
     (f) physical abuse or threat of physical abuse by one parent against the other parent or the child;
     (g) chemical dependency, as defined in 53-24-103, or chemical abuse on the part of either parent;
     (h) continuity and stability of care;
     (i) developmental needs of the child;
     (j) whether a parent has knowingly failed to pay birth-related costs that the parent is able to pay, which is considered to be not in the child's best interests;
     (k) whether a parent has knowingly failed to financially support a child that the parent is able to support, which is considered to be not in the child's best interests;
     (l) whether the child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents, which is considered to be in the child's best interests unless the court determines, after a hearing, that contact with a parent would be detrimental to the child's best interests. In making that determination, the court shall consider evidence of physical abuse or threat of physical abuse by one parent against the other parent or the child, including but not limited to whether a parent or other person residing in that parent's household has been convicted of any of the crimes enumerated in 40-4-219(8)(b).
     (m) adverse effects on the child resulting from continuous and vexatious parenting plan amendment actions.
     (2) A de facto parenting arrangement, in the absence of a prior parenting decree, does not require the child's parent or parents to prove the factors set forth in 40-4-219.
     (3) The following are rebuttable presumptions and apply unless contrary to the best interest of the child:
     (a) A parenting plan action brought by a parent within 6 months after a child support action against that parent is vexatious.
     (b) A motion to amend a final parenting plan pursuant to 40-4-219 is vexatious if a parent seeks to amend a final parenting plan without making a good faith effort to comply with the provisions of the parenting plan or with dispute resolution provisions of the final parenting plan.
40-4-227. Rights of parents and children -- policy -- findings. (1) It is the policy of the state of Montana:
     (a) to recognize the constitutionally protected rights of parents and the integrity of the family unit;
     (b) to recognize a child's constitutionally protected rights, including all fundamental rights unless those rights are specifically precluded by laws that enhance their protection; and
     (c) to ensure that the best interests of the child are met in parenting proceedings.
     (2) The legislature finds:
     (a) that while it is in the best interests of a child to maintain a relationship with a natural parent, a natural parent's inchoate interest in the child requires constitutional protection only when the parent has demonstrated a timely commitment to the responsibilities of parenthood; and
     (b) that a parent's constitutionally protected interest in the parental control of a child should yield to the best interests of the child when the parent's conduct is contrary to the child-parent relationship.
     History: En. Sec. 3, Ch. 414, L. 1999.
 40-4-234. Final parenting plan criteria. (1) In every dissolution proceeding, proceeding for declaration of invalidity of marriage, parenting plan proceeding, or legal separation proceeding that involves a child, each parent or both parents jointly shall submit to the court, in good faith, a proposed final plan for parenting the child, which may include the allocation of parenting functions. A final parenting plan must be incorporated into any final decree or amended decree, including cases of dissolution by default. As used in this section, parenting functions means those aspects of the parent-child relationship in which the parent makes decisions and performs functions necessary for the care and growth of the child, which may include:
     (a) maintaining a loving, stable, consistent, and nurturing relationship with the child;
     (b) attending to the daily needs of the child, such as feeding, physical care, development, and grooming, supervision, spiritual growth and development, health care, day care, and engaging in other activities that are appropriate to the developmental level of the child and that are within the social and economic circumstances of the particular family;
     (c) attending to adequate education for the child, including remedial or other education essential to the best interest of the child;
     (d) ensuring the interactions and interrelationship of the child with the child's parents and siblings and with any other person who significantly affects the child's best interest; and
     (e) exercising appropriate judgment regarding the child's welfare, consistent with the child's developmental level and the family's social and economic circumstances.
     (2) Based on the best interest of the child, a final parenting plan may include, at a minimum, provisions for:
     (a) designation of a parent as custodian of the child, solely for the purposes of all other state and federal statutes that require a designation or determination of custody, but the designation may not affect either parent's rights and responsibilities under the parenting plan;
     (b) designation of the legal residence of both parents and the child, except as provided in 40-4-217;
     (c) a residential schedule specifying the periods of time during which the child will reside with each parent, including provisions for holidays, birthdays of family members, vacations, and other special occasions;
     (d) finances to provide for the child's needs;
     (e) any other factors affecting the physical and emotional health and well-being of the child;
     (f) periodic review of the parenting plan when requested by either parent or the child or when circumstances arise that are foreseen by the parents as triggering a need for review, such as attainment by the child of a certain age or if a change in the child's residence is necessitated;
     (g) sanctions that will apply if a parent fails to follow the terms of the parenting plan, including contempt of court;
     (h) allocation of parental decisionmaking authority regarding the child's:
     (i) education;
     (ii) spiritual development; and
     (iii) health care and physical growth;
     (i) the method by which future disputes concerning the child will be resolved between the parents, other than court action; and
     (j) the unique circumstances of the child or the family situation that the parents agree will facilitate a meaningful, ongoing relationship between the child and parents.
     (3) The court may in its discretion order the parties to participate in a dispute resolution process to assist in resolving any conflicts between the parties regarding adoption of the parenting plan. The dispute resolution process may include counseling or mediation by a specified person or agency or court action.
     (4) Each parent may make decisions regarding the day-to-day care and control of the child while the child is residing with that parent, and either parent may make emergency decisions affecting the child's safety or health. When mutual decisionmaking is designated in the parenting plan but cannot be achieved regarding a particular issue, the parents shall make a good faith effort to resolve the issue through any dispute resolution process provided for in the final parenting plan.
     (5) If a parent fails to comply with a provision of the parenting plan, the other parent's obligations under the parenting plan are not affected.
     (6) At the request of either parent or appropriate party, the court shall order that the parenting plan be sealed except for access by the parents, guardian, or other person having custody of the child


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