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Montana Child Custody Laws

Family law matters generally fall under state jurisdiction, including custody. Most U.S. states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (PDF), which fosters legal cooperation with respect to multi-state custody cases. Montana child custody laws comply with the Act, while also allowing grandparent visitation rights and joint custody

Montana Child Custody Laws

In Montana, child custody and visitation is called "parenting." Instead, the state laws use the term "parenting" to promote the idea that both parents should be involved in the children's lives. A family law judge will decide the terms of a parenting agreement unless both parents can agree on a custody plan, then the court will just need to approve a written agreement.

Best Interests of the Child

The most important concern for the court in deciding on a parenting agreement plan is what is in best interests of the child .

Types of Child Custody

There are two basic types of child custody in Montana, and each comes in two forms.

Legal Custody

A parent is said to have legal custody of a child when that parent makes the important decisions in the child’s life. Some of those decisions include education, religion, and medical care. It is common for parents to share legal custody. In this case, the parents will have to discuss decisions about these issues, although one may have the final say.

Physical Custody

When a child lives with a parent, that parent has physical custody . Although shared physical custody was once popular, a more common approach today is for one parent to have the child during the week, and the other parent watches the child during the weekend.

Sole and Joint Custody

When only one parent has a type of custody, it is called sole custody. When parents share custody, it’s called joint custody .

Learn more about Montana child custody laws in the following table, with links to additional sources. See FindLaw's Child Custody section for additional articles and more state-specific information.

Code Section 40-4-211 et seq.
Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted


Joint Custody an Option?

Yes, §40-4-212 "parenting plan"

Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized?

Yes, §40-9-102

Child's Own Wishes Considered?


Note: Montana child custody laws are constantly changing--contact a Montana child custody attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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