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Where to Find Family Court Records in Montana?

In Montana, members of the public can get family court records at the District Court where the case was filed. The family court division of the District Court is responsible for hearing family-related cases. Documents and other relevant information used during family court proceedings are usually maintained at the clerk’s office. Interested individuals can request available family court records from the clerk’s office using the office’s methods. Procedures for obtaining these records may differ across Montana District Courts.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved. It is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care to make changes in the future. The personal nature results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

What Is Family Law in Montana?

Family law in Montana state is the laid-down principles that the court uses during proceedings of domestic-related cases. Title 40 (Family Law) of the Montana State Code contains the statutes that govern family matters such as divorce, marriage, adoption, child support, and child custody. These statutes include:

Chapter 1. Marriage

Chapter 2. Husband and wife

Chapter 3. Reconciliation

Chapter 4. Termination of marriage, child custody, support

Chapter 5. Enforcement of support

Chapter 6. Parent and child

Chapter 7. Uniform child custody jurisdiction and enforcement act

Chapter 9. Grandparent-grandchild contact

Chapter 15. Partner and family member assault, sexual assault, stalking, and victim protection

ARM Title 37, Ch. 62, Subchapter 1. Montana Child Support Guidelines

What Are Family Court Cases and Records in Montana?

Family court cases in Montana are resolved following the state’s family law. The District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction to handle all family matters within the county they are situated in. Records of family case proceedings are generated and managed at the courthouse. Some cases heard in Montana family courts include:

  • Marriage
  • Family support
  • Child Custody
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Adoption
  • Alimony

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said record is juvenile case information
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

Are Family Court Cases Public Records in Montana?

Under the Montana Public Records Act, records of family court cases are available to the public. Montana family courts maintain all information used during family case proceedings, and the law allows interested persons to obtain such records if they are eligible. Records can be generally gotten at the court where the case was heard. However, some family court records may not be available to the general public due to its information. The law exempts records that may breach involved persons’ privacy and minor children’s information from public access. Persons who wish to obtain exempted records may file a motion at the court. Family court cases that interested individuals can access include divorce records, marriage records, and child custody records.

How Do I Find Family Court Records in Montana?

Persons looking to get family court records in Montana can request them from the district court that the case proceedings happened. Montana state has 56 District Courts with each in every county in the state. The District Courts are administratively organized into 22 judicial districts. The clerk of the court is the custodian of family court records. Typically, individuals can obtain records from the clerk’s office by visiting the courthouse location or sending a written request through U.S mail. To find a District Court and contact information of the clerk, interested individuals can make use of the Court Locator tool. Users can search by picking the county or city from the drop-down to view a list of courts within the judicial district. Requestors are usually required to pay a fee and provide relevant information on the desired family court records.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?

Montana family court records are available on the court Docket Search tool. Interested individuals may search both active and closed cases with the docket search tool. Once a selection is made, users may search family court cases by either the case number, party name, or case attorney. Information that users may obtain includes documents used during the court proceedings and the full details of the case.

What Is Montana Custody Law?

Montana custody laws are the procedures used to resolve custody cases in the family courts. Custody matters usually arise when there is a dissolution of marriage or separation of a child’s parents. Chapter 4 of the state’s Family Law contains the statutes about how custody rights are awarded factors that influence parenting plans. Custody cases information is available to eligible persons.

The court grants custody and visitation rights based on a parenting plan. A parenting plan contains details of the living arrangement of the child and how decisions concerning the child can be made. Usually, the parties may agree on a particular parenting plan. If the parties don’t agree, the family court hears the case and decides what is best for the child.

In custody matters, the court determines the parenting plan following the best interests of the child. Factors that may influence the court’s decision include, but are not limited to:

  • The wishes of the parties involved
  • The child’s wishes
  • The relationship between the child and its parents, siblings, and any other persons that contribute to the child’s best interest.
  • The mental and physical status of all the parties involved
  • The child’s adjustment to a schooling environment or place of residence
  • Cases of physical abuse perpetrated by a parent against the other parent or the child
  • The developmental needs of the child
  • Whether a parent has purposely refused to financially support a child despite having the means
  • If a child will be able to have a continuous relationship with its parents

Montana custody law encourages the child to have a continuous and meaningful relationship with both parents. However, if a parent or someone living in the parent’s residence is convicted of certain crimes, the court may rescind the custody rights of such persons. Crimes that may prevent a parent from having custody rights include:

  • Deliberate homicide
  • Sexual assault
  • Rape
  • Incest
  • Promotion of child prostitution
  • Endangerment of a child’s welfare
  • Sexual abuse of children

To resolve conflicts that may arise from parenting, the court may order the parents to participate in a mediation program. However, the court does not recommend mediation when a party is guilty of domestic violence or sexual offenses.

How to Find Family Court Lawyers in Montana?

To find family court lawyers in Montana, interested individuals may use the Montana State Bar Association’s Montana’s Lawyer Referral Service tool. Users may search for lawyers by the city and practice area.

The Montana judicial branch site offers pro bono opportunities for persons seeking legal aid for free or at a low-cost. Interested individuals may contact the organizations listed.

Also, the Montana Legal Services Association provides free legal association to low-income earners seeking legal aid. Individuals who fall under this category may visit the site and apply for legal help from attorneys.

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