Divorce, Dissolution, Legal Separation, Annulment

Dissolution, commonly referred to as divorce, is the process of cutting the legal, marital ties between two people through the court system. In a dissolution, the parties divide and distribute property, can ask for spousal maintenance (alimony or money from the other person to live on), and, if there are children resulting from the marriage, a parenting plan and child support.

Other terms related to dissolution proceedings in Montana include:

  • Parenting Plans -- In Montana, parenting plans are used to determine the custody of minor children, including when and where each parent will be with and responsible for each child. It also includes who is responsible for decision-making and provides for the financial care of the child. Although the legal term of custody is commonly used, Montana courts use the term parenting time to reflect emphasis on the children.
  • A Declaration of Invalidity, often referred to as an annulment, requires the moving party to show the court that the marriage is invalid under state law. (MCA 40-1-402)
  • No-Fault Dissolution means that a party does not need a reason for filing for a dissolution of marriage. That is, in Montana, a person can ask the court to end their marriage simply because they do not want to be married anymore.
  • Legal Separation -- Under Montana law, a party may request a decree of legal separation rather than a decree of dissolution of marriage, and the court shall grant the decree in that form unless the other party objects. (MCA 40-4-104)
  • There are two ways a dissolution proceeding can proceed in the court system: contested or uncontested. Contested means the two people getting a dissolution do not agree and must make their case to a judge. Uncontested means the parties are filing together, or jointly, and agree on all parts of the dissolution like how property should be divided and how the parenting plan should look for custody. 

Unsure which process applies to your situation? Link to our QUESTIONNAIRE for additional guidance.

Unsure which process applies to your situation? Link to our QUESTIONNAIRE for additional guidance.

Guides

Introduction to Family Law in Montana, from Montana Legal Services Association and the Montana Supreme Court Commission on Self-Represented Litigants

Forms
Divorce/Dissolution of Marriage Forms (2016 Revision)

Disclaimer - These forms were drafted by the Access to Justice Commission Standing Committee on Self Represented Litigants.  For questions about these forms, please contact srlc@mt.gov.

MCA Title 40, Ch. 4 Termination of Marriage, Child Custody, Support

MCA Title 40, Ch. 1, Part 4. Validity of Marriages – Declaration of Invalidity

Information on Dissolution in Montana
Legal Resources in Montana
  • Lawyer Referral Information Service, from the State Bar of Montana (Phone assistance is also available at (406) 449-6577.)
  • Apply for Legal Services, from Montana Legal Service Association (serving low-income Montana with pressing civil legal needs)
  • Montana Legal Services HelpLine and Intake, available Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm: 1-800-666-6899