In many families, parents and grandparents get along well and share time with minor children without issue. Because that is not always the case, occasionally a grandparent will find themselves in the unenviable situation of asking a court to grant them time with their grandchild.
In Montana, third party contact is generally within a parent’s discretion. Provided a parent is fit, the law generally allows a parent to determine whether or not their child has contact with grandparents, other relatives, etc.
Before a Montana court may grant a grandparent’s petition for grandparent-grandchild contact over the objection of a parent, the court must first determine if the parent is a fit parent. When determining if a parent is fit, the court will examine whether or not a parent adequately cares for the child.
If the court determines the parent is unfit, the court then must make a determination if grandparent-grandchild contact would be in the best interest of the minor child.
If the court determines the parent is fit, a grandparent must show both: (1) grandparent-grandchild contact is in the child’s best interest; and (2) the presumption in favor of the parent’s wishes has been rebutted.
Occasionally, parents and grandparents will enter into a specific visitation schedule. Much like a parenting plan, a grandparent visitation schedule outlines specific dates and times the child is to spend with the grandparent. In the event parents and grandparents make such an agreement, a drawn-out court process may be avoided.