Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 2. Support, Custody, Visitation, and Related Provisions

Jurisdiction -- Commencement Of Parenting Proceedings

40-4-211. Jurisdiction -- commencement of parenting proceedings. (1) A court of this state competent to decide parenting matters has jurisdiction to make a parenting determination by initial or amended decree if:

(a) this state:

(i) is the home state of the child at the time of commencement of the proceedings; or

(ii) had been the child's home state within 6 months before commencement of the proceedings and the child is absent from this state because of the child's removal or retention by any person and a parent or person acting as parent continues to live in this state; or

(b) it is in the best interest of the child that a court of this state assume jurisdiction because:

(i) the child and the parents or the child and at least one contestant have a significant connection with this state; and

(ii) there is available in this state substantial evidence concerning the child's present or future care, protection, training, and personal relationships; or

(c) the child is physically present in this state and:

(i) has been abandoned, including being surrendered to an emergency services provider as provided in 40-6-405;

(ii) has been with a caretaker relative who has been awarded continuing custody pursuant to 40-6-602; or

(iii) it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child has been subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse or is neglected or dependent; or

(d) (i) no other state has jurisdiction under prerequisites substantially in accordance with subsection (1)(a), (1)(b), or (1)(c) or another state has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that this state is the more appropriate forum to determine parenting of the child; and

(ii) it is in the child's best interest that the court assume jurisdiction.

(2) Except under subsections (1)(c) and (1)(d), physical presence in this state of the child or of the child and one of the contestants is not alone sufficient to confer jurisdiction on a court of this state to make a parenting determination.

(3) Physical presence of the child, while desirable, is not a prerequisite for jurisdiction to determine parenting of the child.

(4) A parenting plan proceeding is commenced in the district court:

(a) by a parent, by filing a petition:

(i) for dissolution or legal separation;

(ii) for parenting in the county in which the child is permanently resident or found; or

(iii) for custody under 40-6-411; or

(b) by a person other than a parent if the person has established a child-parent relationship with the child, by filing a petition for parenting in the county in which the child resides or is found.

(5) Notice of a parenting proceeding must be given to the child's parent, guardian, caretaker, those persons with whom the child is physically residing, and all other contestants, who may appear, be heard, and file a responsive pleading. The court, upon a showing of good cause, may permit intervention of other interested parties.

(6) For purposes of subsection (4)(b), "child-parent relationship" means a relationship that:

(a) exists or did exist, in whole or in part, preceding the filing of an action under this section, in which a person provides or provided for the physical needs of a child by supplying food, shelter, and clothing and provides or provided the child with necessary care, education, and discipline;

(b) continues or existed on a day-to-day basis through interaction, companionship, interplay, and mutuality that fulfill the child's psychological needs for a parent as well as the child's physical needs; and

(c) meets or met the child's need for continuity of care by providing permanency or stability in residence, schooling, and activities outside of the home.

(7) A custody proceeding under 40-6-411 is commenced in the district court by a parent by filing in one of the following counties:

(a) the county where the newborn is located if the parent knows where the newborn is;

(b) the county where the emergency services provider to whom the newborn was surrendered is located if subsection (7)(a) does not apply; or

(c) the county where the biological parent is located if neither subsection (7)(a) or (7)(b) applies.

History: En. 48-331 by Sec. 31, Ch. 536, L. 1975; amd. Sec. 11, Ch. 33, L. 1977; amd. Sec. 27, Ch. 537, L. 1977; R.C.M. 1947, 48-331; amd. Sec. 14, Ch. 343, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 414, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 15, Ch. 277, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 210, L. 2009.