Alimony (sometimes called “maintenance” in Montana) is financial support made to a spouse during and after a divorce. This is separate from any child support payments that must be made due to the conditions of child custody. Under state law, spouses have a duty to financially support each other, and alimony acknowledges that this duty can continue even after a divorce or legal separation.
How Do You Qualify for Alimony?
Alimony is awarded on a case-by-case basis in Montana, and there is not a set formula used to calculate awards. To be eligible for alimony, you must show that you are unable to provide for your reasonable needs. This can be due to your lack of education or job skills, physical limitations, or your childcare responsibilities.
The court will then award alimony based on a series of factors, including:
- Each spouse’s financial resources,
- The length of your marriage,
- Each spouse’s age and health,
- Each spouse’s earning capacity, occupation, and employability,
- The time required for education and training you need to find work, and
- Your standard of living while married.
Unlike some states, Montana does not consider your spouse’s misconduct or fault when calculating alimony payments.
How Much Alimony Can You Receive in Montana?
Montana does not have a limit or cap on alimony. Instead, the courts must weigh the factors discussed above and determine how much support is appropriate. Under certain circumstances, alimony awards can be millions of dollars (but are typically more modest). Montana alimony can be paid in a lump sum or over time.
How Long Does Alimony Last in Montana?
Montana can award alimony on a temporary, short –term, or permanent basis. Historically, alimony was often awarded to stay-at-home spouses on a permanent basis. However, courts now view alimony as a rehabilitative measure, and many alimony awards are now temporary (giving a spouse time to obtain job training and employment).
How Do You Petition for Alimony?
Again, alimony can be awarded even before a divorce is finalized. If you plan to file a petition for alimony, seriously consider hiring a lawyer before you file for divorce. Montana does not have a standardized form for alimony requests, so each request must be drafted from scratch. It also can be difficult for the average person to calculate and negotiate alimony awards.
Additionally, an increasing number of couples are negotiating alimony in their settlement agreement. If you and your spouse can agree to a fair alimony amount, you can resolve this issue without the court’s involvement. Again, a lawyer can help you with these negotiations.
Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?
Petitioning or modifying an alimony award can be contentious and complicated. A Montana family lawyer can help you file a request with the court, calculate a fair alimony award, and negotiate with your spouse.