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How does property division work during divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2023 | Family Law

Like many facing divorce, you likely have serious concerns about how the process will impact your present and future finances.

Unless you and your future ex-spouse can agree on how to separate your assets, a family law judge will have to decide on your behalf.

Which assets does the court divide during divorce?

As in other states, in Montana, most types of property that either you or your spouse acquired during your marriage became jointly owned marital property. Exceptions include inheritances, personal gifts or property obtained using separately owned assets and not mingled with shared assets.

During divorce, a judge typically divides marital property between spouses. Marital assets may include your home and/or vehicles, bank accounts and personal property as well as retirement or pension accounts, life insurance policies and other investments.

Does the court divide property equally?

In Montana, the rule of “equitable distribution” determines how the court divides assets. While a judge may separate your property equally, the court may award a greater portion to you or to your spouse depending on your family’s specific circumstances. Factors that may influence property division include:

  • The length of your marriage
  • Your/your spouse’s age, health, income, occupation, education and job skills
  • The likelihood of you/your spouse acquiring future income and/or assets
  • Non-monetary contributions you/your spouse have made as a homemaker
  • The parenting and support arrangements you will have going forward

It is important to know that, once the divorce process begins, both you and your spouse must follow an automatic economic restraining order. Until your divorce is complete, this order prevents either you or your future ex from making major financial changes or choices without the other’s permission.