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Montana Legal Separation
Legal Separation in Montana

In Montana, a married couple is separated when they live apart and lead separate lives, but they are legally separated when they obtain a decree of separation.

The separation often starts on a trial basis and then becomes permanent, either legally or in the long term. In Montana, a separation is legal only if a court grants the decree of separation. The couple is not divorced, but the court divides property and rules on spousal and child support issues. An award for support is often called separate maintenance.

If one spouse requests a legal separation, and the other one does not object, the court can grant a decree of separation. A legal separation does not end the marriage. The spouses are married by law, and cannot legally remarry until they change the legal separation into dissolution.

The Montana court grants a separation decree instead of a divorce decree upon the request of either spouse. Either party can request that the court change the separation decree to a dissolution decree after the passage of six months.

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal binding contract signed by spouses, which is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending upon the unique situation of the marriage. Many spouses consult an attorney to provide this or they decide to prepare their own.


In Montana, the process of obtaining a legal separation is the same as filing for divorce. The petitioner must file a Petition for Legal Separation and a Decree for a Legal Separation with the court.


In Montana, the only grounds for a legal separation are the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Montana permits legal separation when the court finds the marriage temporarily disrupted. The decree of separation is good for two years.


One of the spouses must live in Montana for 90 days before filing.

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