MT Supreme Court: Lake Co. judge erred in custody case, child reunited with mother

A local judge erred in developing a parenting plan that wasn’t in a 5-year-old child’s best interest by abruptly removing him from the care of his mother and giving full custody to his father, according to an order filed by the Montana Supreme Court last week.

Missoula lawyers filed a petition on behalf of Shanna ManyWounds, the child’s mother, to the Supreme Court this fall, alleging Lake County District Court Judge Kim Christopher committed a “gross injustice” by giving the child’s father full custody at a September parenting plan mediation, thereby removing the 5-year-old from his community in Elmo. On Jan. 2, five of Montana’s Supreme Court justices issued an order taking Christopher off the case and transferring custody of the 5-year-old back to ManyWounds, who, prior to Jan. 2, had not seen her child in over three months.

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“The Supreme Court was very thorough in their review of the case,” Spencer MacDonald of the MacDonald Law Office said in a phone call. He’s represented ManyWounds throughout the legal process.

On Sept. 11, Christopher presided over a custody hearing between ManyWounds and Jonathan Whyte, the child’s father, who resides

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