Divorce can be a confusing, emotional, and stressful process. There are so many factors to think about and negotiate – including maintenance (also known as alimony).
No matter how amicable the end of your marriage may seem, maintenance needs to be fairly negotiated. Make sure you partner with an experienced Montana divorce lawyer who will look out for your best interests.
Are you prepared to handle this aspect of your divorce proceedings?
Divorce Laws in Montana
Montana operates under a no-fault divorce law. In order to file for divorce, the spouse filing for divorce does not have to prove any fault on the part of the other spouse. To grant a divorce, the court will look for one of the following signs:
- The spouses have lived separate for more than 180 consecutive days; or
- There is serious marital discord between the spouses and no hope of reconciliation.
Under Montana law, if one spouse wants a divorce, there’s nothing the other can do to prevent it.
Understanding Divorce Proceedings
No two divorces are exactly alike. However, every divorce goes through roughly the same journey from initiation to closure:
- File for divorce papers
- File the petition for dissolution of marriage
- Collect information for your lawyer, including social security numbers, marital information, and financial data
- Negotiation (or litigation) on issues like division of debt, assets, real estate, child custody, child support, and maintenance
- Divorce judgement
An experienced lawyer will help successfully navigate this divorce process, negotiate a fair settlement, and avoid a trial.
What is Maintenance?
Maintenance is the amount of money paid by a husband or a wife to their former spouse as the result of a divorce. Either spouse can request maintenance, but an award isn’t automatically given. In order to be awarded, the spouse asking for maintenance must be unable to provide for his or her own reasonable needs.
To determine whether or not a spouse should be granted maintenance, a judge will review a variety of factors, including:
- Current financial resources of each spouse
- Education and skill level of spouse seeking maintenance
- Physical and emotional condition of spouse seeking maintenance
- Standard of living established during the marriage
Maintenance is not the same as child support. However, stay-at-home moms or other non-working spouses can be awarded maintenance.
You can learn more about what a Montana judge will take into account when granting maintenance here.
How is Maintenance Calculated?
A judge will determine the appropriate amount of maintenance a spouse must pay by considering factors like:
- Amount of money each spouse could reasonably earn per month
- Reasonable monthly expenses
- Ability for each spouse to maintain a similar lifestyle to what they had before the separation
How Long Do Maintenance Payments Last?
Maintenance is typically paid on a monthly basis or in one lump sum. These payments can be set for a defined period of time, or until a qualifying event occurs. A qualifying event could include:
- The spouse becomes gainfully employed and now has the ability to provide for themselves.
- The spouse fails to make a sufficient effort to become at least partially self-supporting
- The spouse gets remarried
Maintenance terms, including the total amount paid and duration, are always negotiable. It’s important to partner with a confident Montana lawyer to successfully work out the details in a fair way for both sides.
Partner With an Experienced Montana Divorce Lawyer
When you get married, you and your spouse enter into an agreement to provide for each other. This responsibility doesn’t immediately end with a dissolution of marriage. Be prepared to handle this aspect of your divorce correctly.
If you are facing a divorce or have questions about any issues regarding divorce, maintenance, or other family law matters, give us a call at (406) 721-3354.
We will advocate for your rights and work to achieve the best possible outcome. Contact us today to learn more.
Marty is a former criminal prosecutor in the Cascade County Attorney’s Office and now uses that experience to defend those accused of crimes. A University of Montana School of Law graduate, Marty focuses his practice on personal injury and criminal defense and is a premier DUI defense attorney. He is also well versed in the insurance claims industry and has negotiated significant settlements with nearly every major insurance company.