1. People & Relationships
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Montana Divorce Laws

By

Businesspeople talking in office
Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Montana Divorce Laws

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:

One of the parties must be a resident or stationed in Montana for 90 days before filing for divorce. Divorce proceedings are handled by the district court in the county where the divorce petition will be filed. [Based on Montana Code - Section 40 - Titles: 4-104 and 4-123, Section 25 - Title: 2-118]

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:

Montana is a no-fault divorce state. To grant a divorce, the court must determine a) that the couple have lived separate and apart for a period of more than 180 days filing for divorce; or b) there is serious marital discord that adversely affects the attitude of one or both of the parties towards the marriage. [Based on Montana Code - Section 40 - Title: 4-104]

LEGAL SEPARATION:

If a party requests a decree of legal separation rather than a decree of dissolution of marriage, the court shall grant the decree in that form unless the other party objects. Either party shall convert the legal separation to a decree of dissolution after 6 months after the entry of a decree of legal separation. [Based on Montana Code - Section 40 - Titles: 4-104 and 4-108]

MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:

The district court may at any time consider the advisability of requiring the parties to participate in the mediation of the case. Any party may request the court to order mediation. If the parties agree to mediation, the court may require the attendance of the parties or the representatives of the parties with authority to settle the case at the mediation sessions. The court may not authorize or permit continuation of mediated negotiations if the court has reason to suspect that one of the parties or a child of a party has been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused by the other party. [Based on Montana Code - Section 40 - Title: 4-301)

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION:

Montana is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court, without regard to marital misconduct, will try to distribute the marital estate equitably. The court shall consider the duration of the marriage and prior marriage of either party; the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and needs of each of the parties; custodial provisions; whether the apportionment is in lieu of or in addition to maintenance; and the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income. The court shall also consider the contribution or dissipation of value of the respective estates and the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or to the family unit. In dividing property acquired prior to the marriage; property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; property acquired in exchange for property acquired before the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or descent; the increased value of property acquired prior to marriage; and property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation. [Based on Montana Code - Section 40 - Title: 4-202]

ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE/SPOUSAL SUPPORT:

Spousal maintenance may be awarded to either spouse only if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:

  • Lacks sufficient property to provide for his reasonable needs; and
  • Is unable to support himself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home.

The maintenance order shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant facts including:

  • The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to him, and his ability to meet his needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party as custodian.
  • The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment.
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
  • The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.

[Based on Montana Code - Section 40 - Title: 4-203]

SPOUSE'S NAME:

Upon request by a wife whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid, the court shall order the wife's maiden name or a former name restored. [Based on Montana Code - Section 40 - Title: 4-108]

CHILD CUSTODY:

The court shall determine the parenting plan in accordance with the best interest of the child. The court shall consider all relevant parenting factors, which may include but are not limited to:

  • The wishes of the child's parent or parents.
  • The wishes of the child.
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child's parent or parents and siblings and with any other person who significantly affects the child's best interest.
  • The child's adjustment to home, school, and community.
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
  • Physical abuse or threat of physical abuse by one parent against the other parent or the child.
  • Chemical dependency (as defined in 53-24-103), or chemical abuse on the part of either parent.
  • Continuity and stability of care.
  • Developmental needs of the child;
  • Whether a parent has knowingly failed to pay birth-related costs that the parent is able to pay, which is considered to be not in the child's best interests.
  • Whether a parent has knowingly failed to financially support a child that the parent is able to support, which is considered to be not in the child's best interests.
  • Whether the child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents, which is considered to be in the child's best interests unless the court determines, after a hearing, that contact with a parent would be detrimental to the child's best interests. In making that determination, the court shall consider evidence of physical abuse or threat of physical abuse by one parent against the other parent or the child, including but not limited to whether a parent or other person residing in that parent's household has been convicted of any of the crimes enumerated in 40-4-219(8)(b).
  • Adverse effects on the child resulting from continuous and vexatious parenting plan amendment actions.

[Based on Montana Code - Section 40 - Title: 4-212]

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.