Top Corvallis, MT Child Custody Lawyers Near You
Child Custody Lawyers | Hamilton Office | Serving Corvallis, MT
345 West Main Street, PO Box 997, Hamilton, MT 59840-0997
Corvallis Child Custody Information
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Shared Custody and VisitationWhen parents of a child are separated or get a divorce, they have to determine the child’s custody and visitation rights. Custody arrangements can include shared custody or sole custody. Joint legal custody and joint physical custody mean the parents both have the right to make legal decisions for the child and share physical time with the child. Even when both parents have shared custody, the parent who spends the most time with the child is generally considered the custodial parent. The other parent has visitation rights and can see the child based on the visitation schedule and custody order.
Legal Issues in Child Custody DisputesWhen parents cannot agree on a child custody agreement that works for everybody, they may have to go to court to have family law matters decided. In most cases, the court will first have the parents go through mediation to work together on a schedule. If mediation does not work, the court may decide the custody and visitation arrangement.
How Do Judges Decide Child CustodyFamily court judges must consider what is in the best interests of the child when determining custody. The court can consider several factors, including the child’s relationship with the parents, the parents’ work schedules, the child’s wishes, siblings and extended family, distance between parents, cooperation of the parents, safety and stability, and any other relevant factors. In most cases, judges emphasize making sure the child will spend time with both parents. To make this happen, a judge will likely want to know what each parent’s home environment is like, whether each parent will be able to give a child the proper attention, and in which situation the child will be most likely to thrive.
Taking Away Parental RightsParents can lose their parenting rights if the child is abused, abandoned, or in an unsafe environment. A parent or the state can petition for a termination of parental rights. The other parent will have a chance to respond in court to present their side of the story. Grounds for terminating parental rights include abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
Can I Change a Child Custody Order?If both parents are unhappy with the current custody arrangement, you can negotiate a change to your agreement or modify the child custody order. If a family law judge feels that the changes are in the child’s best interests and benefits outweigh any negative impacts, then the court may modify the child custody order. If you want to change a child custody order and the other parent disagrees, you may need to show a substantial change in circumstances to justify the change. This could include one of the parents moving out of state, suffering from a disability or illness that affects their parenting ability, domestic violence, exposing the child to an unsafe environment, or having a change in work circumstances that requires rescheduling visitation.
What If My Ex Isn’t Paying Child Support?It can be very difficult for a custodial parent to take proper care of their child if the other parent isn’t paying their fair share. However, in most cases, a parent’s failure to pay child support or spousal support is not enough to deny visitation. If your ex isn’t paying support, you can contact your Montana child support program to enforce child support orders.
How a Montana Child Custody Attorney Can HelpA family law attorney can help you resolve your custody legal issue and guide you through the process. Child custody lawyers can help you navigate the legal system, while avoiding costly mistakes or procedural errors. For legal advice on your custody issues, you should look for a family law firm with a practice area that focuses on Montana child custody cases like yours.
What do judges look for in custody cases?In every state, family court judges must consider what is in the child’s best interests when determining custody. In most cases, judges emphasize making sure the child will spend ample time with both parents. To make this happen, a judge will likely want to know what each parent’s home environment is like, whether each parent will be able to give a child the proper attention, and which situation the child will be most likely to thrive in.
Who has legal custody of the child when the parents aren’t married?If the parents are not married, the child’s biological parents both have parental rights unless the law says otherwise. An exception to this could be if no father is listed on the child’s birth certificate. In that case, the father would have to go through the legal process of establishing paternity to be able to assert his parental rights for visitation.
How can a mother lose custody of her child?A mother can lose custody of her child in much the same way a father could. This could include abusing the child, abusing drugs or alcohol, providing an unsafe home environment for the child, or abandoning the child.
How can you change a child custody order?If you or your ex are unhappy with the current custody arrangement, you can negotiate a change to your agreement. If a judge feels that the changes are still in the child’s best interests, then they may approve the order. If one of you is pressing ahead with seeking a change and the other parent is contesting it, you will need to prove a “substantial” change in circumstances. This could include one of the parents moving out of state, suffering from a disability or illness that affects their parenting ability, exposing the child to an unsafe environment, or having a change in work circumstances that requires rescheduling of visitation.
How an Attorney Can Help
An attorney can often resolve your particular legal issue faster and better than trying to do it alone. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, while avoiding costly mistakes or procedural errors. You should seek out an attorney whose practice focuses on the area of law most relevant to your issue.
Top Questions to Ask a Lawyer
- What is the usual process to resolve my case? How long will it take to resolve this?
- What are likely outcomes of a case like mine? What should I expect?
An experienced lawyer should be able to communicate a basic “road map” on how to proceed. The lawyer should be able to walk you through the anticipated process, key considerations, and potential pitfalls to avoid. Once you’ve laid out the facts of your situation to the lawyer, he/she should be able to frame expectations and likely scenarios to help you understand your legal issue.
How will an attorney charge me?
A reputable attorney will be very upfront about how he/she will charge you. The three most common fee structures that attorneys use to charge for their services are:
- Bill by the hour
- Contingent fee agreement
- Flat fee agreement
Depending on your specific legal situation, it’s possible that only one type of fee structure is available. For instance, criminal defense attorneys almost always bill by the hour. In a flat fee arrangement, an attorney accepts a one-time payment to help you resolve your issue. With a contingent fee agreement, the client pays little to nothing upfront and the attorney receives a percentage of the money recovered if you win your case.
Common legal terms explained
Plaintiff – a person or party who brings a lawsuit against another person(s) or party/parties in a court of law. Private persons or parties can only file suit in civil court.
Judgment – A decision of the court. Also known as a decree or order. Judgments handed down by the court are usually binding on the parties before the court.