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Montana Property Division Factors

In Montana, the property and debt issues are typically settled between the parties by a signed Marital Settlement Agreement or the property award is actually order and decreed by the District Court within the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

Montana is referred to as an "equitable distribution" state. When the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the District Court will take the following approach to dividing the assets; First, it will go through a discovery process to classify which property and debt is to be considered marital. Next, it will assign a monetary value on the marital property and debt. Last, it will distribute the marital assets between the two parties in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is deemed by the District Court to be fair.

The court shall consider the following whether distributing the marital property upon dissolution of marriage: duration of the marriage and prior marriage of either party; the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, and needs of each of the parties; custodial provisions; whether the apportionment is in lieu of or in addition to maintenance; and the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income.

The following is also considered by the court; the contribution each spouse had to the acquisition of the marital property;   (a) the nonmonetary contribution of a homemaker; (b) the extent to which such contributions have facilitated the maintenance of this property; and (c) whether or not the property division serves as an alternative to maintenance arrangements. (Montana Code - Section 40 - Titles: 4-202)

Since Montana is an "Equitable Distribution" state, all marital property will be divided in an equitable fashion according to the court unless agreed to otherwise by the divorcing spouses. What does "equitable" mean? Equitable can be defined as "what is fair, not necessarily equal." To automatically believe the marital property would be divided 50-50 would be a wrong assumption in any equitable distribution state. You can also read more about Montana property division in the Montana state statutes located at: http://data.opi.state.mt.us/.