Is Your Marriage Over? What to Do

Are you living separately from your spouse but haven’t filed for divorce yet? Do you believe the marriage is over regardless of what your spouse thinks? Are you concerned that filing for divorce could cause your spouse to hide assets or do things to harm your credit or your future in general? Do you think that divorcing your spouse could jeopardize your assets acquired through inheritance or items you are scheduled to inherit in the future? Are you worried that if you file for divorce, you will not be able to pay for your expenses during the divorce process?

We have been asked all of these questions and more by people considering divorce. 

Universally, the answer is, “If you are sure the marriage is over, the sooner you file the better.” Whatever the reason you have delayed filing for divorce, waiting is rarely beneficial.

Filing for divorce in Montana

Under Montana law, in the vast majority of cases, the Court will evaluate the “marital estate” at the time of filing for divorce, not at the time of separation. 

What does this mean for you? Any money you make, property you buy, or investment growth you experience during that time will be considered part of the marital estate and will be equitably divided by the Court. The counter to this is also true, any debts your spouse incurs could be your responsibility. Filing for divorce or legal separation will freeze the clock regarding what is included in the “marital estate.”

Once you file for divorce, you and your spouse will be ordered by the Court not to dissipate or damage the marital estate during the pendency of the case. This order is called a “Temporary Economic Restraining Order” or TERO for short. This protects both parties from losses that could occur due to the misconduct of the other. 

After filing for divorce, you have the ability to motion the Court for interim maintenance or child support to provide for yourself and/or your children if you are unable due to a disparity in earning capability. 

“Can I file for divorce in Montana?”

In Montana, divorce is legally referred to as a “Dissolution of Marriage”, and the spouses are known as “the parties to the Dissolution.”

Either party can file for divorce as long as the petitioner has lived in Montana for at least 90 days prior to filing the petition. In case you and your spouse have children under the age of 18, they must have lived in the State for at least 6 months (with some exceptions).

To get a divorce in Montana, the petitioner must demonstrate an “irretrievable breakdown in the marriage,” which means:

  1. You’ve been living separately for at least 180 days prior to the petition, or
  2. There’s a serious marital disagreement, which has a negative impact on one of the parties.


Don’t wait to file for divorce

If you know the marriage is over, you need to contact a family law and divorce attorney and get the process started. If you find yourself in a position where you have been separated from your spouse for an extended period of time and are now worried that you could face losing all that you’ve built since the separation, the sooner you address the problem, the better your outcome will be. 

If you are interested in filing for divorce in Montana, our team at Judnich Law is here to answer all your questions and guide you from start to finish. We can help you understand the process, your position in the estate, and what the best course of action is for you!

Reach out to us in Missoula (406) 203-0913 or Bozeman (406) 602-8700 or contact our office online to get the legal representation that you need.


Ashley Hurlbert, Esq.