Father's Rights Laws in Montana

By Naomi Dathan
Montana, the bond, father, child

father and son image by Diane Stamatelatos from Fotolia.com

If you are or believe you are the father of a child in Montana, Montana law gives you specific rights as a parent, even if you were never married to the mother. Historically, a man was considered to be a child's father if he was married to the child's mother at or shortly before the time of birth. The recent increase in nonmarital births has forced lawmakers to acknowledge that the biological link between a putative father and a child is a substantial relationship.

Putative Father

You have the right to continuity in your relationship with your child.

Father and Son image by Diane Stamatelatos from Fotolia.com

When a child is born into a marriage, the husband is legally presumed to be the child's father. If you weren't married to the mother but agree to have your name on the birth certificate, acknowledge your paternity in writing, or support the child as your own, you are considered the child's "putative father." Montana is one of the states that have putative father registries, allowing fathers to claim paternity.

Visitation

The best parenting plans are clear and well-defined.

girl with father image by Marzanna Syncerz from Fotolia.com

Custody and visitation in Montana is referred to as parenting time. Parents are required to provide the court with a parenting plan, outlining the custody agreement and the detailed visitation schedule. The judge will then approve or revise the parenting plan, taking into consideration the parents' wishes, the child's feelings, family relationships, the child's adjustment, the physical and emotional needs of everyone involved, the developmental needs of the child, and whether there is any history of drug abuse or domestic violence.

Custody

The first consideration is the best interests of the children.

father and daughter image by Amy Myers from Fotolia.com

When a child is born to an unmarried mother, the mother is automatically awarded custody. Even if you have established paternity, the mother still has custody unless you legally file for custody. As the putative father, you have the same right to seek visitation or custody as a divorced parent, but you bear the burden of proving that you are the better choice to be custodial parent. You should be aware that if either parent knowingly fails to support the child, the court considers that to be not in the best interests of the child, and that will be a consideration in the custody decision.

About the Author

Naomi Dathan ghostwrites blogs and writes content for websites. She has written several articles for print magazines such as Highlights for Children and Christian Parenting Today, and she has written four novels.

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