Montana Divorce Law And Spousal Maintenance: How To Determine Whether Maintenance Is Appropriate

Getting a divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged experience, particularly when it comes to deciding on spousal maintenance. In Montana, spousal maintenance, also known as alimony or spousal support, is a payment made by one spouse to the other to assist with their living expenses following a divorce. However, determining whether maintenance is appropriate or necessary can be a challenging task. This article aims to delve deeper into Montana divorce law and provide guidance on how to determine the appropriateness of spousal maintenance.

Understanding Montana Divorce Law

Before delving into the intricacies of spousal maintenance, it is crucial to grasp the fundamentals of Montana divorce law. Firstly, Montana is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that either spouse can file for divorce without having to prove any wrongdoing by the other party. The sole requirement is that the marriage is irretrievably broken, indicating that there is no possibility of reconciliation.

In Montana, the division of property is based on equitable distribution. This means that marital property is divided fairly, taking into account various factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income, and their contributions to the marriage.

Unpacking Spousal Maintenance in Montana

Spousal maintenance, also referred to as spousal support, involves one spouse providing financial assistance to the other following a divorce. The purpose of spousal maintenance is to enable the recipient to maintain their standard of living after the divorce, especially if they are unable to financially support themselves.

Factors Taken into Account for Spousal Maintenance

Several factors are considered when determining the appropriateness and amount of spousal maintenance. Montana courts take into account the following factors:

Length of the Marriage

The length of the marriage plays a significant role in the decision regarding spousal maintenance. Typically, the longer the marriage, the higher the likelihood of spousal maintenance being awarded.

Age and Health of the Parties

The age and health of each party are also important considerations. If one party is older or in poor health, they may have a greater chance of receiving spousal maintenance.

Income and Earning Capacity

Income and earning capacity are crucial factors. If one party earns substantially more than the other, they may be required to provide spousal maintenance. The court may also consider the recipient spouse’s capability to work and generate income.

Contributions to the Marriage

Both parties’ contributions to the marriage, including financial contributions (such as income earned and property acquired) and non-financial contributions (such as child-rearing or household management), are taken into consideration.

Standard of Living During the Marriage

The standard of living during the marriage is an influential factor. If one party is accustomed to a higher standard of living, they may be granted spousal maintenance to help maintain that lifestyle.

Marital Misconduct

Lastly, marital misconduct such as adultery, abuse, or any behavior contributing to the breakdown of the marriage, may be considered in the decision-making process.

Types of Spousal Maintenance

In Montana, there are two primary types of spousal maintenance: temporary and permanent. Temporary maintenance is provided during the divorce proceedings and aims to assist the lower-earning spouse in maintaining their standard of living until the divorce is finalized. On the other hand, permanent maintenance is awarded after the divorce is finalized and may be paid for an extended period, potentially spanning the recipient’s lifetime.


Determining the appropriateness of spousal maintenance can be a complex process. However, Montana considers various factors to ensure that the decision is fair. Variables such as the length of the marriage, income and earning capacity of each party, and the standard of living during the marriage all play a crucial role in reaching a spousal maintenance decision. If you are going through a divorce in Montana and are uncertain about whether spousal maintenance is appropriate, seeking guidance from an experienced Montana divorce attorney is essential. They can offer valuable insights and help navigate you through the process.

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