Do your own divorce
Montana - Divorce Requirements
The following information is to provide a basic understanding of the various aspects of Montana divorce.

Click here for more specific information regarding Montana divorce laws.

Every effort has been made to assure that the information contained in these pages is accurate however, due to the ever changing nature of the law some material may be outdated or may no longer apply.

Residency Requirements At least one spouse, at the time the divorce papers are filed, must have resided in Montana for at least 90 days preceding the filing of the divorce papers, or been stationed in Montana while in the armed services for at least 90 days preceding filing the divorce papers.
Where to File District courts, municipal courts, justices' courts, and city courts have concurrent jurisdiction to hear and issue orders
Grounds for Divorce A divorce in Montana can be granted if the court finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The court must support this finding with evidence that the parties have lived separate and apart for more than 180 days preceding filing the divorce papers, or that there is serious marital discord that adversely affects the attitude of one or both of the parties towards the marriage.
Voluntary or required mediation No
Voluntary or recommended CounselingYes
Property Distribution Montana laws allow the court, without regard to marital misconduct, to equitably divide the property and assets belonging to either or both party, however and whenever acquired, and however titled. In dividing the property, the court shall consider the following factors:
  • 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
  • The opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income
  • The contribution or dissipation of value of the respective estates
  • The contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or to the family unit
Child Custody Montana laws use guidelines to determine custody in accordance with the best interest of the child. The court shall consider all relevant 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 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
  • Adverse effects on the child resulting from continuous and vexatious parenting plan amendment actions.
Child Support There are specific child support guidelines that will determine how much child support should be paid. Child support typically can't be waived by the parents, although a judge might decide this on a case-by-case basis, looking at all factors. If you and your spouse agree to an amount of child support that's different than the guidelines would order, the judge will decide if that amount is in the child's best interests.

Immediate Income Deduction.
Every order for child support is subject to an immediate income deduction order, unless there is good cause not to require immediate deduction, or there is an alternative written agreement between the parties and, if also a party to the action, the Department of Public Health and Human Services. The payment of child support must provide sufficient security to ensure compliance with the arrangement. The alternative written agreement must be approved and entered by the court.

Termination Date.
Provisions for the support of a child are terminated by the emancipation of the child, or the child's graduation from high school if the child is enrolled in high school, whichever occurs later. Child support obligations don't terminate upon the death of a parent obligated to pay child support. When a parent obligated to pay child support dies, the amount of support may be modified, revoked, or commuted to a lump-sum payment, to the extent just and appropriate in the circumstances.
Spousal Support Montana laws allow the court to may grant alimony for either spouse only if it finds that the spouse seeking alimony 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.

Alimony shall be awarded 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 alimony, including marital property awarded 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 alimony 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 alimony
  • The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking alimony