Montana Family Law

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 What is Family Law?

Family law is a category of laws that deals with issues that relate to familial relationships. The most well-known categories of family law include:

  • Divorce;
  • Child custody; and
  • Child support.

There are, however, many other subcategories of family law, which include:

  • Paternity;
  • Adoption;
  • Emancipation; and
  • Other matters that are heard in family court.

Some lawyers who practice family law also specialize in a particular subcategory. For example, a lawyer may primarily handle adoption cases while another lawyer may handle cases that mainly involve child support issues. Most family law lawyers, however, practice and handle cases in many of the subcategories that are associated with family relationships.

What are Some Common Family Law Issues Surrounding Marriage? 

There are many common family law issues that may arise from a marriage. These may include:

  • Prenuptial Agreements;
  • Divorce;
  • Alimony; and
  • Domestic Violence.

A marriage can start off great and develop into a complicated situation for many individuals. For some, the issue is complicated before a coupe even gets married.

For example, the couple may sign a prenuptial agreement. This is a contract that is created prior to a marriage. It typically includes a list of each individual’s assets as well as the rights of each individual in the event that the marriage fails. There are pros and cons to prenuptial agreements that can be further discussed with a family law attorney.

Following a marriage, some couples seek a legal separation. A legal separation does not terminate the marriage as a divorce does, but it defines the legal rights and obligations of each party.

In some cases, individuals who get married will seek an annulment. This is a legal decree that treats the marriage as though it had never occurred by declaring it null and void. There are limited grounds for receiving an annulment, including:

  • Bigamy; 
  • Incest; 
  • Intoxication during the onset of marriage; 
  • Legal age issues; and 
  • Issues that are related to force, fraud, and physical and/or mental incapacity.

A divorce is a termination of a marriage. In some cases, a divorce can be amicable. In other cases, it can be very contentious. Matters that can arise from a divorce include:

Each of these issues can cause disagreements among a divorcing couple. Regardless of the situation, the court will always put the child’s best interest first.

Another issue that commonly arises in family law cases is domestic violence. Many marriages that end in divorce involve domestic violence.

It is important to note that other relationships may also involve domestic violence. These may include:

  • Dating relationships;
  • Parent and child relationships; and
  • Elder abuse.

What are Some Common Family Law Issues Involving Children? 

There are many common family law issues that involve children. These include:

  • Child Custody;
  • Child Visitation;
  • Adoption; and
  • Child Abuse.

When issues involving children arise in the legal system, it can take a serious toll on all the parties involved. Child custody and child support arrangements function best in cases where the ex-spouses are willing to communicate and cooperate. These arrangements, however, do not always go according to plan. A skilled family law attorney can often help during the negotiations and help bring a reasonable solution before the court. 

Child custody involves determining which parent will care for the child on a day-to-day basis. This parent is called the custodial parent. The other parent is called the non-custodial parent and is often ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent for the care of the child.

Child visitation arrangements are made so that the child may spend time with both parents. If the parties cannot agree on a visitation arrangement, the court will provide a standard visitation schedule.

The legal process can be more complicated in cases of adoption and cases that involve stepparents or other individuals who have no biological relation to the child. The termination of a biological parent’s rights as well as adoptions typically require investigations, interviews with the child and family members, and several court hearings. It is not advisable for an individual to attempt to go through these processes without an attorney.

An unfortunate issue that arises in family law cases involving children is child abuse. Cases of child abuse and neglect are far too common and have widespread consequences. 

Child abuse cases have implications in family law as well as criminal law. To mistreat or neglect a child is serious. Every state in the United States has laws and agencies that seek to protect the welfare of children. 

These agencies are called child protective services (CPS) agencies. They investigate cases of abuse and neglect as well as place children in adoption or foster care programs.

What Do Montana Family Law Attorneys Do? 

Family law attorneys in Montana handle cases involving family law issues. These attorneys are trained to practice in an area of law that applies to legal issues that may arise in connection with domestic relationships. 

A Montana family law attorney may handle cases involving:

  • Child custody;
  • Alimony and child support payments;
  • Marriage;
  • Divorce;
  • Adoption;
  • Child protective orders;
  • Surrogacy;
  • Paternity; and
  • Many other parental or family-related matters.

Since there are so many subcategories of family law, many attorneys will specialize in a handful of those areas. By doing so, they are able to become experts in a subcategory of family law. They are still able to handle cases in all areas, but may be more familiar with the types of cases they handle often.

For example, a family law attorney that handles mainly divorce cases is more likely to also handle other marital arrangements, including separation agreement and prenuptial or post nuptial agreements. In contrast, a family law attorney who handles mainly custody cases is more likely to also handle matters involving visitation rights and child support payments.

Does Montana Have Any Unique Family Laws? 

Yes, Montana has some unique family laws, especially related to divorce issues. Montana is one of 6 states that does not have a cooling-off period. 

A cooling-off period is a specific period of time before a divorce can be finalized. It ranges anywhere between 0 and 365 days and varies by state.

Montana is a no fault divorce state. This means that it is not required to show that one party is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. In addition, the spouses do not have to agree to the dissolution of the marriage.

With regard to child custody issues, there are some important language changes in Montana. The state no longer uses the terms “custody” and “visitation,” but has replaced them with the term “parenting” to facilitate the concept that both parents should be involved in the child’s life.

Do I Need to Hire a Montana Family Lawyer for Help with My Legal Issue? 

Yes, it is essential to have the assistance of an experienced Montana family lawyer in Montana for any family law issues you may have. Family law matters are often very delicate. The way a family law issue is resolved may affect the rest of your life as well as other members of your family.

Your lawyer can review your situation, explain how the laws and any previously signed agreements may affect the outcome of your case, and discuss options for resolving your issues. In addition, your lawyer can advise you how to gather documents and evidence for court if needed and represent you during any court proceedings. 

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