Montana Divorce & Separation
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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021
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Although separations and divorces are granted in every state, the laws and rules that govern these procedures can differ greatly depending on where you live. What are the requirements for getting a divorce in Montana? Is mediation a requirement before you can get a Montana divorce? What is the law on Montana annulments? Find the answers to your Montana divorce questions here.
Montana Legal Separation:
Legal separations are allowed in Montana when the court finds the marriage is temporarily disrupted. A petition for separation is required, and two years is the maximum time period granted. Once the separation is granted, the court may modify or add to the decree in order to provide support and maintenance (either from a spouse or the property of either spouse) for minor children, and possible spousal support.
Grounds for Divorce/Fault – No Fault:
Montana offers only no-fault divorces. This means that to obtain a divorce in Montana, the parties need only show either: 1) “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” or 2) the parties living separate and apart from each other. The separate living requirement has certain criteria, one of which must be met:
- The parties must have lived separate and apart under a decree of separation entered by any court, with the term of separation having expired without reconciliation,
- The parties must have lived separate and apart for more than two years under a separate maintenance decree entered by any court, again with no reconciliation, or
- The parties must have continuously lived separate and apart for the two years preceding the divorce filing date, and there is no reasonable likelihood that cohabitation will resume, and the court concludes that it would not be harsh and oppressive to the defendant (or against the public interest) to grant the divorce.
Residency/Where to File for Divorce:
To file for divorce, either party must be domiciled and physically present in Montana for a continuous period of at least six months before filing. The petition for divorce should be filed with the family court in the petitioner/applicant’s local circuit.
Montana Divorce/Child Support/Child Custody Lawyers:
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Divorce Mediation in Montana:
For marriages with children, the court has the right to order a reconciliation conference for the parents and/or counseling for the children, which would likely involve the services of a well-trained, court-appointed mediator. Parenting classes or any other type of educational activity may be substituted for the divorce mediation, depending on the court’s assessment of what is appropriate and in the best interests of the children. The mediation route (also called “alternative dispute resolution”) is particularly appropriate where there are issues that could be resolved and agreed upon amicably through a conference rather than forcing the parties, the children, and the court system through unnecessary litigation.
An annulment is a court declaration that your marriage is legally invalid. In other words, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage was never valid to begin with, for reasons including: consent obtained by fraud, duress, a party’s minor status at time of consent, consanguinity, one party’s lacking mental capacity, and in some cases one party’s affliction with “loathsome disease” unknown to the petitioner for the annulment. The underage grounds are valid until the parties obtain legal age and freely cohabit; the grounds of lacking mental capacity are valid as long as that state persists.
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