LGBTQ Parenting Rights in Montana: What You MUST Know

LGBTQ families can have unique family law needs. 

At the Judnich Law Office, we understand those needs, and we provide a full array of family law services to all families, including LGBTQ individuals and families. 

As LGBTQ family laws in Montana continue to change, navigating those can become confusing for LGBTQ and same-sex couples raising children and seeking to ensure that their status and rights as parents are secure. 

If you have questions about your parental rights, contact our office to discuss how Montana’s LGBTQ parenting laws apply to you.


Will I need to adopt my own child?

For same-sex couples, there may be times when a parent might need to adopt their own child.

This can be necessary when a child comes into the family by surrogacy or through reproductive assistance. Securing parental rights can be a time of mixed emotions for LGBT families — joy at welcoming a new child into the family, but frustration at having to secure your legal rights. 

Working with an attorney throughout the process can help you to focus more on the joy of your family, while your attorney handles the legal documents and the court system.


Do stepparents need to adopt?

In Montana, a second parent or stepparent may adopt a child when the custodial parent consents to that adoption and good cause is shown. One spouse can adopt the other spouse’s child as a stepparent. If the child’s parents are not married, a partner may adopt the child as a second parent. These laws apply to both same-sex and opposite-sex parents.

Second parent adoption and stepparent adoption are both available to LGBT families in Montana. 


What is presumptive parenthood?

In Montana, the spouse of a person who gives birth to a child during their marriage is presumed to be the parent of that child The language the law uses is gendered, presuming that the couple is an opposite-sex couple. However, following Rolando and Obergefell, there is a strong argument to make that the law should apply equally to all married couples.

The Montana Supreme Court has not issued an opinion on this subject yet, and the statutory language is not inclusive of same-sex families. For these reasons, some parents may wish to go through an adoption process after their spouse gives birth to a new baby. By going through that process, a judge can issue an order that both parents be listed on the child’s birth certificate.


Who does the law in Montana consider to be a “parent”?

In Montana, if you have formed a parent-like relationship with your spouse or partner’s child, you may have standing to assert rights related to custody and visitation after your relationship ends, even if you never formally adopted your spouse or partner’s child.

You will have to be able to show that you provided for the child’s physical needs (food, shelter, clothing) and that you provided the necessary care, education, and discipline on a day-to-day basis through interaction and companionship in the way that a parent does. 


Have more questions about LGBTQ parenting law in Montana?

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If you have questions about your rights as a parent, call the Judnich Law Office today at (406) 721-3354. You can also contact us online to schedule your consultation.

We will treat you and your family with dignity and respect, and we will work with you toward solutions that will work for your family’s needs.