Divorce Laws in Montana
Where divorces in the United States are handled depends on where the individuals have residency. Each state has different residency requirements for filing for divorce. Montana law states that an individual must be a Montana resident for a minimum of ninety days prior to filing for divorce.
The law also states that an individual does not necessarily have to currently be a Montana resident to file, nor do both individuals have to reside in state borders. Those who are serving in the United States armed forces are considered to be residents after the ninety days have passed. All the residency requirements are stated in the Montana Code section 25 titles 2-118.
Montana Grounds for Divorce
The United States also requires that individuals have grounds for divorce. These are the reasons or reason why a divorce is requested. One individual may file for divorce but will have to prove the divorcing grounds before the court.
Both spouses may petition for divorce on decided grounds under the law. However, these grounds must be legal in the state. Montana has different grounds for divorce than other states. Even if one ground for divorce is legal in another state does not mean it is legal in Montana.
Unlike other states Montana has only one category for which divorces can be based: the No-Fault category. This category states that no particular individual in the marriage is responsible for the disintegration of the marriage. According to Montana code section 40 title 4-104, No-Fault grounds include an irretrievably broken marriage, living in separate residencies for at least one hundred eighty days prior to divorce filing, and the attitude of one or both spouses altering due to a severe marital discord.
Under all of these circumstances, the court will not grant a divorce unless evidence is provided.
Filing with the Court in Montana
You must file your Montana divorce papers in the court located in the County where you presently reside. We will provide the court information in the documents that we send to you, but some of the courts in Montana are listed below:
Lewis and Clark County District Court:
228 Broadway St., Helena, MT 59601-4263 Phone: 406-447-8216 Fax: 406-447-8421
Cascade County District Court:
415 2nd Ave. North, Great Falls, MT 59401 Phone: 406-454-6780 Fax: 406-454-6907
Missoula County District Court:
200 West Broadway, Missoula, MT 59802-4292 Phone: 406-258-4780 Fax: 406-258-4899
Yellowstone County District Court:
217 N. 27th Street, Billings, MT 59107 Phone: 406-256-2851 Fax: 406-256-2995
Gallatin County District Court:
615 South 16th, Room 302, Bozeman, MT 59715-4107 Phone: 406-582-2165 Fax: 406-582-2176
If your County court is not listed, the information for your court will be included in the divorce papers we send you.
Filing for divorce requires many different kinds of documents. Some of these can exceed the double digits. All of these documents will be filed through the court clerk’s office of the district in which the divorce is filed.
Some of these documents will include a Final Declaration of Disclosure of Assets form, a Marital Settlement Agreement form, a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, a Notice of Entry of Final Decree form, a Request for Hearing and Order form, and an Income and Expenses form.
Property can be distributed in various ways. Individuals have the opportunity to divide the property between themselves after the divorce has been filed. If they cannot reach an agreement the court will decide which kind of property goes to which spouse.
Montana is known as an equitable distribution state where the property in a marriage is not required to be distributed evenly. This agreement states that the property need only be distributed fairly between the spouses. The court will consider each individual’s personal income, economic status, the custody of any subsequent children, the contribution to the family home, the length of the marriage, educational history, and credit history before awarding property.
Common questions about divorce laws in Montana often revolve around several key areas. Here are some frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers:
- What are the Grounds for Divorce in Montana?
- Montana allows both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. No-fault grounds typically involve irreconcilable differences, while fault-based grounds could include adultery, cruelty, willful desertion, or imprisonment.
- How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Montana?
- The time frame can vary based on the complexity of the case, the court’s docket, and whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Typically, it might take several months to a year or more to finalize a divorce.
- How Is Property Divided in a Divorce in Montana?
- Montana follows the principle of equitable distribution, meaning marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally. Marital property includes assets acquired during the marriage, and the court considers various factors to determine a fair distribution.
- Is Montana a Community Property State?
- No, Montana follows the equitable distribution principle. This means that assets and debts acquired during the marriage are typically divided fairly, not automatically 50/50 as in community property states.
- Does Montana Have Alimony (Spousal Support)?
- Yes, Montana allows for spousal support, which could be temporary or long-term. The court considers factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial situation, and contributions to the marriage when determining alimony.
- How Does Montana Handle Child Custody and Support?
- Child custody decisions prioritize the best interests of the child. Montana courts consider various factors including the child’s relationship with each parent, the parent’s ability to provide for the child, and the child’s preferences (if they’re of sufficient age). Child support is determined based on the Montana Child Support Guidelines.
- Do We Need to Go to Court for a Divorce in Montana?
- Not necessarily. If both parties can agree on all issues related to the divorce (such as property division, child custody, and support), they might be able to settle through mediation or negotiation outside of court. However, if disagreements persist, a court appearance might be necessary.
- Can I Modify a Divorce Decree in Montana?
- Under certain circumstances, modifications to child support, child custody, or spousal support can be made if there’s a substantial change in circumstances. A formal legal process is usually required for modifications.
These questions cover some of the common concerns individuals have when navigating divorce in Montana, but specifics can vary based on each unique situation. It’s often advisable to seek legal counsel to address individual circumstances and get accurate guidance through the divorce process.