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Montana Grandparents' Rights

Procedures for Obtaining Grandparent-Grandchild Contact

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Montana grandparents live in a state of great scenic beauty.

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Grandparents in the state of Montana may petition for "reasonable rights to contact" with a grandchild regardless of the status of the child's parents. If a parent whose parental rights have not been terminated objects to such contact, the grandparent's task becomes more difficult.

One way to win visitation over the wishes of a parent is to present "clear and convincing evidence" of the parent's unfitness. In order to prove unfitness, a grandparent must prove one of the conditions enumerated in a separate statute, 42-2-608. These include:

  • A parent has lost custody due to abuse or neglect
  • the parent has abandoned the child
  • The parent, although able, has not contributed to the child's support for a year
  • The parent is in violation of an order to support the child or another child of the same birth mother
  • The parent has been found guilty of a crime against a child, including aggravated assault, sexual assault, sexual intercourse without consent, incest, homicide, sexual abuse or ritual abuse.
  • The child has been maintained by a public or private agency for one year without the parent contributing to the child's support, if able
  • The parent has been convicted of a crime or of violating a protective order, indicating that the parent is unfit.

Even if a parent is proven unfit, the grandparents must still present evidence that contact is in the best interests of the child

If a parent is considered fit, a grandparent may win the right to contact with the grandchild over parental objections if "clear and convincing evidence" is presented that the contact with the grandparent would be in the best interest of the child and that the presumption in favor of the parent's wishes has been rebutted.

Petitions for grandparent-grandchild contact cannot be presented more often than once every two years unless something about the grandchild's situation has changed. The court may appoint an attorney to represent the interests of the child if it deems necessary. Adoption terminates the rights of the grandparents unless the adopting party is a stepparent or grandparent.

See Montana Statute 40-9-102.

In 2009 the provisions of the above statute were extended to great-grandparents. See 40-9-103.

Go back to grandparents rights by state.

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