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DIY Divorce Guide

Montana Divorce Information and Overview

Complete divorce guide with state requirements and laws.
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Montana Online Divorce Basics This is a divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in Montana. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.
Divorce in Montana Made Easy
    • Time Frame: A divorce may be finalized 20 days after the respondent receives the divorce papers, but it usually takes 30 -90 days depending on how busy the court is.
    • Where to File: District Court. "District Court for the State of Montana and the County of ______________."
    • State Statutes: Montana Code annotated; Section 40 et el.
    • Name of Action: Dissolution of Marriage.
    • Name of Parties: Petitioner, the filing spouse, and respondent, the other spouse; or co-petitioners if the spouses file jointly.
    • No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Montana is a no-fault only state.
    • Primary Documents Filed: Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
    • Physical Separation Required: No.
    • Separation Time to File: For a no-fault dissolution, living "separate and apart" can be grounds but most file under the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
    • Legal Separation Permitted: Courts grant legal separation on the same grounds as a dissolution of marriage.
    • Grounds: No-fault, which means an "[i]rretrievable breakdown of the marriage shown by1) serious marital discord which adversely affects the attitude of both spouses towards the marriage and no reasonable prospect of reconciliation or 2) living separate and apart for 180 days prior to filing."
    • Residency requirement: 90 days preceding the filing of the action.
    • Mediation Required: There is no mandatory mediation in Montana for divorcing spouses.
    • Counseling Required: The court may suggest counseling and issue a continuation of the case if it appears the marriage could be saved. This may happen if one or both of the parties denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or if one or both wish to try to settle their differences. The court continues the case for further hearing not fewer than 30 or more than 60 days.
    • Parenting Classes Required: At the court's discretion, the judge may order parents to attend a parenting class.
    • Filing Fee: About $175. (See MT Filing Fee Waiver Form)
    • Where to File for Child Support: The Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services enforce financial and medical support for children.
    • Child Support Guidelines Model: The support guidelines are set out in the Montana Administrative Rules, and they are based on the Melson formula.
Set out in the Montana Administrative Rules, Montana Title 37, Chapter 62, Subchapter 1: Montana Child Support Guidelines, the Melson formula gives each parent a poverty self-support reserve, and then determines the total remaining combined parental income and the noncustodial parent's percent. The formula applies the noncustodial parent's percentage to a standard primary support obligation based on the number of children. Finally, after the primary support obligation is subtracted, the formula assesses the noncustodial parent an additional percentage of his or her remaining income. The Montana courts consider both actual and imputed income. Subtracting the "allowable deductions" and the parent's "personal allowance" from each parent's income yields the Income available for support. Allowable deductions include those required by law, those required as a condition of employment, and those necessary to produce income. In Montana, support ends at 18 or 19 if the child is in high school. The state has a worksheet to help calculate the support amount. Many parents can agree on an amount that gets approved by the court as long as it is deemed reasonable and just to support the child(ren).
    • Property Division: Equitable distribution on all property.
    • Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of marital property is marital.
    • Attendance at Hearing: Yes. Only one spouse has to go to court to finalize the divorce if you file a standard Joint Petition for Dissolution.
    • Fault Considered in Property Division: No.
    • Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
    • Ways to Serve Spouse: Process servers effect personal service by delivering the divorce papers to him or her personally or by delivering them to an agent authorized by appointment or by law. Divorce papers may also be served by mailing a copy of the Petition (by first class mail, postage prepaid) to the respondent. A missing respondent, who cannot be served in person or by mail may be legally served by publication.
    • Divorce Records: The Department of Public Health & Human Services of Montana Office of Vital Statistics
The Montana State Case Registry and Vital Statistics Form must be completed and filed with the clerk of court before a divorce decree or support order can be docketed. MCA §40-5-908(1). The form contains the information necessary to comply with MCA §§40-5-907 and 50-15-302. The Department of Public Health & Human Services of Montana Office of Vital Statistics maintains divorce records for the state. A Divorce Certificate shows proof that the divorce took place and includes information like the parties names, date of divorce, and the county which the divorce was filed and finalized. The Office of Vital Statistics is located at 111 North Sanders Room 209, Helena, Montana 59604. An actual copy of a Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Final Decree of Dissolution must be retrieved from the county Clerk at the courthouse in which the divorce was filed. The Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Final Decree of Dissolution will include the actual settlement terms of the divorce. Both the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Final Decree of Dissolution and a Divorce Certificate require a fee to be paid and there are specific methods to request and make payment as well as restrictions on who can make the request for the divorce documents.


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