Changing a Parenting Plan
Your Montana divorce is final, and you've moved forward in your life. You are co-parenting pursuant to your court-ordered parenting plan. But, a couple years down the road, you realize the plan just isn't working for your kids anymore. What do you do? Generally, you'll seek a parenting plan amendment.
In my family law consultations involving parenting plan amendments, I always tell potential clients that there are two hurdles to obtaining a parenting plan amendment in Montana:
1) Pursuant to Montana law You have to prove that there has been a "significant change in circumstances." This is a higher threshold than you might think, and, like most things, it depends on your judge. In general, the change in circumstances cannot just be that the child is older (unless the plan was designed around an infant and the child is now much older). It cannot just be that you don't like the plan anymore. It has to be a fairly strong showing that things have really changed, so the parenting plan needs to change too. This determination is very fact-based.
Contrary to popular belief, a child does not get to pick their parenting plan at age 14. Montana law basically says that when a child turns 14 their wishes can form the BASIS for an amendment. It does not mean that the Court will do whatever the teen wants. It just means that the Court will let the kid's wishes be the basis for the motion.
2) After you have proven a significant change in circumstances has occurred and a parenting plan amendment is needed, you need to prove that your parenting plan is in the child's best interests per Montana family law. This is another determination that is very dependent on your judge, and very dependent on the facts of the case.
Parenting plan amendments can be a daunting process. As a divorce lawyer practicing in both Kalispell and Helena, Montana, I am happy to discuss your Montana family law case with you. I offer a 30-minute phone consultation for $75. I can go over your case and fill you in on your options!