Montana Divorce

Residency Requirements

In order to file for a divorce in Montana, one of the parties must have lived in the state or was stationed in the state while a member of the military for 90 days before filing the divorce action.


Grounds for Divorce

To get a divorce in Montana, the court must find that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the parties have lived apart for at least 180 days, and there is serious marital discord that adversely affects the attitude of one or both of the parties towards the marriage.


Division of Property

Montana courts use equitable distribution of all assets belonging to either party in a marriage, including property that may only be titled in one person’s name, and without regard to marital misconduct. When dividing pre-marital property; property acquired by gift; the increased value of property acquired prior to marriage; and property acquired after a decree of legal separation, the court shall consider those contributions of the other spouse to the marriage.


Spousal Support

The court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse only if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property to provide for the spouse’s reasonable needs and is unable to be self-supporting 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.

When deciding how much maintenance will be awarded, and for how long, the court will consider the following relevant facts without regard to marital misconduct:
(a) the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to that party, and the party’s ability to meet the party’s 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;
(b) the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment;
(c) the standard of living established during the marriage;
(d) the duration of the marriage;
(e) the age and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
(f) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet the spouse’s own needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.


Child Custody

Montana courts determine the parenting plan in accordance with the best interest of the child standard, which includes the following factors:
(a) the wishes of the child’s parent or parents;
(b) the wishes of the child;
(c) 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;
(d) the child’s adjustment to home, school, and community;
(e) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
(f) physical abuse or threat of physical abuse by one parent against the other parent or the child;
(g) chemical dependency or chemical abuse on the part of either parent;
(h) continuity and stability of care;
(i) developmental needs of the child;
(j) 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;
(k) 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; and
(l) 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 certain crimes.


Child Support

When deciding child support, the court will not consider marital misconduct, though it will consider the following relevant factors in its determination:
(a) the financial resources of the child;
(b) the financial resources of the parents;
(c) the standard of living that the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
(d) the physical and emotional condition of the child and the child’s educational and medical needs;
(e) the age of the child;
(f) the cost of day care for the child;
(g) any parenting plan that is ordered or decided upon; and
(h) the needs of any person, other than the child, whom either parent is legally obligated to support.

In Montana, a child is considered emancipated when he/she graduates from high school or at age 19, whichever comes first.


Sources (Montana’s official state website)


Montana Resources


Laws & Courts:

Montana Law – state statutes. Title 40, Chapter Four.

Additional Resources:

State Bar – public information pamphlets, news for attorneys and the public, and and other information is available from the State Bar of Montana.
Children’s Rights Council – national nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that works to assure children meaningful and continuing contact with both their parents and extended family regardless of the parents’ marital status.

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The State Resource pages are provided for informational purposes only. Do not take any actions based upon the information contained within the State Resource pages without first consulting an attorney licensed in your state. We at strive to keep our information up-to-date; however state laws are not static and subject to change without notice.