Family matters. That's why family matters are so complex when it comes to the law.
Dealing with family matters in the court system can be one of the most difficult and emotional tasks you may face. We help you navigate these challenging situations while always keeping your best interest at heart.
DIVORCE AND LEGAL SEPARATION
Dissolving a marriage or obtaining a legal separation can be overwhelming. We will guide you through the process. Our attorneys handle complex divorce cases, including matters involving high net worth, common law marriage, domestic violence, military, and LGBT partners. We will assist you with assessing your marital estate, property and debt division, establishing parenting time, and setting up separate households so you can move forward. If there is the potential that the marriage can be repaired in the future, a legal separation may be right for you.
When a relationship ends and children are involved, where they will live and how they will spend time with each parent has to be determined. This is generally established through a court order called a “Parenting Plan.” Some parents are able to agree on the terms of a Parenting Plan. Other cases are more complicated and require the court to decide what parenting arrangements will be made for the child. In Montana, courts must put the best interests of the child first. We walk you through formulating a parenting plan to meet your family’s needs in accordance with Montana law. This includes establishing paternity, modifying an existing parenting plan, or relocating to another area.
Our attorneys have experience in many areas, including:
• Parenting Schedules
• Children with Special Needs
• Parental Alienation
• Domestic Violence
• Alcohol or Drug Abuse
• Modification of Existing Parenting Plans
Montana Child Support laws ensure financial costs for a child are appropriately divided between parents to meet the child’s needs. Many factors can impact a child support calculation, including the parenting schedule, parents’ income, health insurance costs, daycare costs, and tax exemptions. Other things, like self-employment, can make calculations more complicated. An experienced attorney is necessary to ensure you are paying or receiving the appropriate amount of child support. If you need to request a modification to child support or have an issue with enforcement, we will assist with that too.
Determining whether or not a court may award spousal support involves many considerations. Generally, courts disfavor awarding spousal support if there is property in the marital estate that can be divided to account for a need for spousal support. A case-by-case analysis must be done to determine if an award for spousal support may be appropriate. This includes:
• Length of marriage;
• Contributions (monetary and non-monetary) by each spouse to the marriage;
• Prior agreements between parties;
• Employment or ability to be employed;
• Parties’ lifestyle during the marriage;
• Other spouse’s ability to contribute to spousal support while meeting their own needs.
These factors are not all inclusive. We are experienced in both advocating for and defending against requests for spousal support depending on the circumstances of your family.
Dividing your property can be a difficult and emotional experience. Two households are more expensive than one, and many items carry memories of your life together. Property includes not only assets, but debts, and both must be equitably divided under Montana law. Montana courts consider all property, including premarital property, inherited property, gifted property, and separate property in when equitably dividing the marital estate. Some factors used to make an equitable division included:
• When the property was acquired;
• How the property was acquired;
• A spouse’s contributions to maintaining the property during the marriage;
• Whether an injustice may occur if one spouse is awarded the property over the other.
As your advocate, our attorneys work to achieve the best possible outcome for a fair asset and debt distribution.
Adopting a child can help make a family complete. In Montana, in order to adopt a child, one or both of the child’s biological parents must have their parental rights terminated by a court. In some cases, this is done by the State and/or the termination is involuntary. In other cases, a parent may voluntarily terminate their parental rights to allow a stepparent or new family to adopt the child. Adoption laws can be complicated and there can be times when you are required to have the assistance of an attorney. We can help you navigate the process and make sure the child is placed with the family they deserve.
GUARDIANSHIP AND CONSERVATORSHIP
There may be times when a guardianship or conservative is necessary for a child or incapacitated adult. A guardianship is established to appoint someone to care for and make personal decisions related to the health care, safety, habitation, and therapeutic needs of another. A conservatorship appoints someone to make financial or property decisions for another. We are able to quickly and efficiently establish a guardianship or conservatorship or both based on your family’s needs.
SETTLEMENT AND MEDIATION
Many family cases are best resolved through alternative dispute resolution, which is more commonly referred to as a settlement conference or mediation. In Montana, courts usually require parties to mediate a matter and attempt to resolve it before a trial, unless there is domestic violence involved. This option is almost always shorter and less expensive than litigating a family case in the court system. It also allows you to craft a solution that works best for you and your family. We will work with you to guide you through this process to ensure you reach the best resolution for your case.
COMMON LAW MARRIAGE
Montana recognizes common law marriage and if established, it affords the same rights and obligations as those in traditional marriages. However, you cannot simply slide into an unintended common law marriage. We can help you determine what elements are necessary to establish a common law marriage and what rights you may have if you choose to end it.
PRENUPTIAL AND POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
Montana recognizes and enforces prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, if they are properly drafted and executed. These contracts may include provisions waiving spousal support, dividing assets in the event of divorce, or forfeiting other legal rights you may have as a spouse. Our attorneys are experienced in the requirements necessary to create an enforceable prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. We can effectively draft or challenge these contracts, making sure your intent and finances remain protected.
If you feel a final judgement, order, or decree issued by a court does not reflect the facts of your case, you may be able to appeal the outcome. Although appeals can be expensive and are governed by strict rules, we are very familiar with Montana’s appellate system and may be able to assist you in modifying or correcting errors the court may have committed.
We are here to help.
Facing a difficult situation with your family?
WE WILL PROTECT WHAT NEEDS PROTECTING
Complete the form below for a free phone consultation or call us at 406.577.2145