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Montana Marital Settlement (Divorce) Agreement

A Montana marital settlement agreement is used by divorcing couples to enter into a binding arrangement in the distribution of their property, assets, and child custody. By agreeing on the terms of their separation, couples can control the outcome of their divorce and avoid having a judge determine the division of their property and other interests.
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Divorce Laws

Alimony

The court may award alimony, referred to as a “maintenance order” in state courts, to either spouse; however, the support-seeking spouse must prove that they have insufficient means to reasonably support themselves. The following criteria are observed when assigning alimony:[1]

  • The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance
  • The education of the party seeking maintenance
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age and condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • The ability of the other spouse to support themselves and the spouse seeking maintenance

Alimony Calculatorcalculators.law

Child Support

Either or both spouses may be ordered to pay child support to the other party in accordance with state child support guidelines.[2]

Child Support Calculatormtchildsupport.com, calculators.law, alllaw.com

Division of Property

Montana is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court is required to apportion the couple’s property and assets in a just and fair manner in consideration of each spouse’s circumstances and the facts of their case. Equitable distribution is not always an equal fifty-fifty split.[3]

Grounds for Divorce

Couples can file for divorce by declaring one (1) of the following factors as their grounds for divorce:[4][5]

  • Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
  • The couple has lived apart for a period of more than one hundred eighty (180) days
  • Serious marital discord

Interim Support

During divorce proceedings, either spouse can request an order for temporary maintenance (alimony) and/or child support.[6]

Residency

At least one (1) spouse must have been a state resident for at least ninety (90) days immediately prior to beginning legal action for their divorce.[7]

Separation

To file for divorce on the grounds of separation, spouses must live in separate residences for a period longer than one hundred eighty (180) days.[8]

Divorce Forms

The below forms are in Microsoft Word (.doc) format.

How to File for Divorce in Montana (5 steps)

1. Complete Divorce Paperwork

A person writing in the blanks on divorce paperwork

If a couple is in agreement regarding the terms of their divorce (the legal term in Montana is “dissolution of marriage”) they can file a joint petition for divorce as co-petitioners. This type of uncontested divorce bypasses the need for either party to be served a summons or named as a defendant in the case. It is also the quickest and least complicated option for divorcing couples.

The couple will need to download and complete the following forms:

The couple will need to make at least three (3) copies of each form.

2. Marital Settlement Agreement

To aid the couple in completing their Proposed Property Distribution, they can fill out a Marital Settlement Agreement. This document covers all of the necessary terms for divorcing couples and is often completed with legal mediation to make an agreement that is fair to both spouses.

3. File Divorce Paperwork with District Court

Lawyer on the way to court

The couple must file all of the required paperwork for their joint petition with the Clerk of the District Court for the county in which either spouse is a resident. The petitioners will be given a hearing date and case number by the clerk, who will charge a base filing fee of $200 (the payment and pre-payment of other fees may also be required). In the event that the couple is unable to pay the associated court costs, they can complete and file a Request for Waiving Court Fees. The court clerk should be provided with pre-addressed stamped envelopes for both spouses if they wish to receive copies of their decree by mail.

4. Attend Hearing and Final Decree

Lawyer at the final divorce hearing representing client

Both spouses are required to attend their divorce hearing unless one (1) of them filed a Consent to Entry of Decree to waive their required attendance. The judge will review the couple’s proposed property distribution and parenting plan, interview each spouse, and if everything is in order, sign the Final Dissolution Decree at which juncture the divorce will be final (in many cases the petitioner will need to file the decree with the court clerk).

5. Name Change

Either spouse may legally change their last name by including the name change in their Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Once the divorce has been finalized, certified copies of the divorce decree can be used as proof that their name was legally changed when updating personal accounts and official records. To change their name after a divorce is final, individuals will need to open a new case by filing a Petition for Name Change with their district court.

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