Montana Divorce Laws

According to divorce laws in the state of Montana, residency requirements must be met in order for dissolution of marriage to be filed.  Jurisdictional rights must be verified or the case will be dismissed

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

To file a decree of dissolution of marriage in the state of Montana, one member of the union must have maintained a domicile or been stationed in the state in service of military for a period of not less then 90 days.

Grounds for divorce in Montana are no fault only, including a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken which must be supported by sufficient evidence.  That the parties have lived separated for more then 180 days prior to the filing, or that there is a martial discord that affects the opinion of one or both parties towards the marriage.

Division of Property

Property division in the state of Montana is decided in an equitable fashion, this means not necessarily equal but fair.  Parties are encouraged to come to agreement on the division of their assets and debts.  If the courts are bound to intervene then all relevant factors shall be considered including, but not limited to:  employability, vocational skills, and length of marriage, age, health occupation of each spouse, opportunity for future income and acquisition of assets.  They will also consider the contribution of each spouse to the marriage including that of a homemaker.

Child Custody

Child custody is decided on in the manner least emotionally traumatic to the children.  The Montana courts make an effort to make decisions in the best interests of the children if they are required to intervene in custody matters.  The parties to the divorce are encouraged to come to agreement regarding living arrangements of the children.  If an agreement cannot be arrived at, the courts decision will depend on several factors including

  • The helath, mental and physical of all involved individuals.
  • The chbilds’s relationship with parents, siblings and other family members.
  • The preference of the child, depending on the child’s age.
  • The stability of care.
  • If a parent has not financially supported a chiuld that he; or she is able to support.
  • The ability of the custodial parents to provide continuing contact with the other parent, providing that contact is appropriate.
  • Any other factors the courts deems relevant to it decision.


Child custody may be decided based on the needs of the parties, the best interest of the children and the financial abilities of both spouses.  Montana uses the Percentage of Income formula to calculate support.  This formula calculates the obligation based on the income percentage of the non-custodial parent.  Support is obligated depending on the custodianship of the children.  Either or both parents may be found to owe and a duty of support to a child regardless of marital misconduct.

Other factors may be consider such as  (1) the needs, financial, physical and emotional of the child to be supported (2) the parents debts and financial obligations (3) the standard of living that the child has been accustomed to during the marriage (4) all income and resources of the parents, including actual and personal property.

Spousal support is not considered a standard obligation in all divorce cases.  Temporary or permanent support from one spouse to support the other is determined by agreement of parties or by decision of the court.  If a court decision is deemed necessary, the following factors will be considered:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property distributed to him/her.
  • The standard of living that the parties have become accustomed to during the marriage.
  • The ability of the spouse seeking support to get training and find employment appropriate to being able to support themselves.
  • Age, emotional and physical condition of the spouse seeking support.
  • Ability of the spouse expected to provide support to meet the needs of the spouse as well as their own.  Other factors deemed relevant by the court will be considered as appropriate.