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How to File for Divorce in Montana

Divorce in Montana State is referred to as the dissolution of marriage and it involves the legal termination of the marital relationship between two individuals via the judicial system. The District Courts, Justices’ Courts, Municipal Courts, and City courts share jurisdiction over divorce proceedings in the state. Interested persons can file a no-fault dissolution of marriage that does not mandate them to have a reason for the dissolution. Individuals that wish to file for divorce in Montana should have lived in the state for up to three months or more before the filing date. Divorce proceedings usually take a shorter time to be finalized if it goes uncontested by the defendant.

Do I need a Reason for Divorce in Montana?

Typically, eligible persons in Montana can file a no-fault dissolution of marriage, that is, they do not necessarily need to provide a reason such as divorce filings. Under Section 40–4–104, the court will enter a decree of divorce for the following reasons:

  • Before the dissolution filing, both parties have resided separately for 180 days or more
  • The court established that reconciliation is not possible
  • There is a severe marital dissonance that negatively influences the attitude of the parties towards their marital relationship.

Since the state laws allow no-fault dissolution filings, the court does not necessitate parties involved in divorce proceedings to provide sufficient grounds for divorce. However, intending divorcees must be eligible under the law before the court can ensue with the decree of divorce.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

Why do I need a Divorce Lawyer?

A divorce lawyer can help persons involved in a divorce action to understand the issues of the case. Divorce lawyers are also familiar with the state laws concerning divorce and can help their clients to navigate them. In settlements and negotiation matters, lawyers help to get the best deal for their clients. If the parties do not reach an agreement, a lawyer prepares the case for trial and represents the parties during the proceedings.

How do I Get Started in a Divorce in Montana?

To begin a divorce action, one of the parties can file a petition for the dissolution of marriage at the appropriate Montana court. Montana requires either of the spouses to reside in the state for at least ninety days and 180 days or more of legal separation. Petitioners can get divorce forms on the judiciary website. The forms are to be completed and submitted to the court within the petitioner’s judicial district, alongside the payment of filing fees. Petitioners who may not afford such charges can also file the Request for Waiving Court Fees form. The petitioner must notify the other party by serving them the paperwork using the Sheriff’s Office or U.S mail. Upon acceptance of the service, the respondent can file an answer that indicates if they agree or want to contest the divorce action. Filing charges also apply for an answer but respondents can also request a waiver if they cannot afford the fees.

How to File for Divorce in Montana Without a Lawyer?

Interested parties can initiate divorce proceedings in Montana without using a lawyer. The state judicial branch website provides online resources on family law that guides self-represented litigants. The judiciary also offers a Court Help Program to equip self-represented litigants with the right information they need to proceed in their case.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Does Montana Divorce Mediation Work?

Divorce mediation in Montana is a program that offers the involved parties a non-judicial method of negotiation and reaching settlements concerning the terms of the dissolution. The Family Law Mediation statute guides the process of the mediation proceedings. The court appoints a mediator that is neutral and assists the parties to agree on the terms of the settlement.

How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final in Montana?

Upon a successful mediation program, the mediator can recommend orders to the court for the final verdict. Divorce proceedings are finalized faster if the parties reach a settlement and agree on issues that may arise such as child custody or spousal support. If the mediation program fails to yield a settlement, further dissolution proceedings will commence.

Are Divorce Records Public in Montana?

Yes, divorce records are public in Montana. The state’s Public Records Act grants the general public access to non-confidential information for inspection or copying. However, custodians of divorce records cannot provide querying parties with sealed divorce records or redacted information including details of financial settlements.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Get Montana Divorce Records?

Typically, querying parties can request Montana divorce records from the clerk of the court where the dissolution proceedings occurred. Requestors can use the court locator tool to get the location of courts in Montana. The state’s Department of Public Health and Human Services also maintains and disseminates divorce records. Querying parties can also submit a written request to inquire about the desired records. Requestors can address their request to:

Room 6, 111 N Sanders

P. O. Box 4210

Helena, MT 59604

(406) 444–2685

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