Getting a Legal Separation in the State of Montana
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Legal separation in Montana is also termed as 'Separate Maintenance'. The process is same as a divorce process and it is granted in the form of a court decree. The court has the discretion to convert the decree of legal separation to an absolute divorce after a period of 2 years if none of the partners apply for divorce or inform the court that they have reconciled. It is to be noted that it is necessary to inform the court if the couple has reconciled if one wants to avoid the legal hassles.
Grounds for Legal Separation in Montana:
The only ground for obtaining a legal separation in Montana is, 'irretrievable breakdown of the marriage', which has occurred due to irreconcilable differences between the couple, which has made it impossible to stay together. The couple can file a joint appeal requesting that legal separation be granted owing to these conditions.
Settlement Agreement in Montana:
Just like the other states, the couples in Montana are also supposed to reach a mutual settlement regarding the marital issues and need to prepare a settlement agreement that has to be signed by both the parties and approved by the court. Unless this agreement is signed, the legal separation cannot be finalized. The settlement agreement is also known as the legal separation agreement and is an important document recognized by the statute. This agreement deals with the arrangements related to childcare, property settlement, financial issues and other relevant issues that need to be sorted out before going separate ways. Let us have a detailed look at these issues:
The legal separation in Montana is legal only when this agreement is signed by both the parties and is approved by the court.
- Guardianship – Also known as child custody, the guardianship refers to who will be the legal guardian of the child until he / she finishes the high school and leaves for the college education. The guardianship is determined according to the financial condition of the both the parents, their earning capacity, ability to provide for the basic needs of the child, the wishes of the parents, the age and health of both the parents, the standard of life enjoyed by the kids prior to the separation, mental and physical health of the parents, history or potential of physical or sexual abuse of the children by the parents, preference of the child, his / her adjustment to the home, school and community environment etc. are checked before granting the custody to the parents.
The Montana courts believe that each parent should have a significant and active participation in the life of a minor child. Due to this, the parents are usually encouraged to share the custody depending on the amicability between the parents.
- Child Support – There is no such thing as a child support model to calculate the amount for child support. While determining the amount of child support, the income of the parents, financial resources of the parents, standard of living the child has when the parents lived together, physical and emotional health of the child, age of the child are considered.
As mentioned above, the court is determined that both the parents should play a significant role in their child's life. They should provide all the basic necessities of the child as they used to when they lived together as a family. Thus, both the parents have to contribute a specific share of their income as the amount for child support. The child support has to be provided until the child reaches the age of 18, is emancipated or until he / she completes the high school.
- Alimony – Alimony is also termed as spousal support. The court determines whether either of the partners is entitled to get an alimony. The financial resources of both the spouses, the income, financial obligations, time required for the job training if required, standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, duration of marriage, age, physical and emotional health of the spouse has to be considered while determining the amount for alimony.
The spousal support can be paid in installments as well as a lump sum amount, according to the requirements of the dependent spouse. The financial conditions of the supporting spouse also has to be considered if the amount of alimony has to be decided. The income of the supporting spouse, financial obligations if any, health, standard of life, capacity to make the ends meet also has to be considered.
- Property Distribution – Montana is an equitable distribution state. This means that the marital property is divided in a fair way as possible regardless of who the owner of the assets is. The duration of marriage matters the most when it comes to the property settlement in the state of Montana. It is better to reach a mutual settlement regarding the property as the court's arrangement may not be beneficial to both the parties.
The individual property, possessions, inheritance and the rewards remain with the owner regardless of who paid for them. However, the assets acquired, debts incurred, responsibilities and duties are divided equitably. This arrangement is legally binding for both the parties.
- Visitation and Co-parenting – The parenting plan with a visitation schedule and co-parenting has to be prepared by the parents so that they can share the responsibilities that come with raising the child and can actively participate in the child's life. The alternate week visitation along with the weekly visitation plan, communication and transportation plan along with the vacations, holidays and breaks has to be mentioned in the parenting plan and visitation schedule. Co-parenting is possible only if the parents have a cordial relationship with each other. If the parents fail to reach an agreement, the court intervenes and imposes its own plan that may not be convenient for both the parents as well as the child.