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Signs you may have to pay alimony in a Montana divorce

You don't get married with the expectation that your marriage will fail. Typically, when you get married, you imagine spending the rest of your life with your spouse. You're probably not considering the outcome and long-term impact of a divorce when you say, "I do." After a few years (or decades), however, you may come to realize that you and your spouse would be happier going your separate ways.

It's only natural to wonder about the potential outcome of your divorce. For many professionals, the potential of paying spousal maintenance, also called alimony, is a serious concern. Educating yourself about the possibilities and Montana state law on divorce is a great idea. However, you should remember that every marriage, family and divorce is unique. What happens in one case will not necessarily happen in another. However, you can look at general trends to help you determine how likely you are to pay alimony.

Certain situations may make maintenance more likely

Many couples in Montana have valuable assets that won't get split up in a divorce. If one spouse lives on and works a family farm, for example, the couple may not own the land or any of the equipment. That could mean a cash-poor divorce. However, the ranch provides for a certain lifestyle for both spouses. In a scenario like this, the courts could order ongoing alimony or spousal maintenance.

Similarly, if your spouse stayed at home to care for the household or raise children, that could impact his or her ability to earn a decent wage now. The courts will consider that when making a decision. If you have small children who require constant care or a special needs child whom your spouse cares for, that could also impact claims to maintenance. The courts will review your spouse's ability to earn a livable wage and continue to care for the children.

The courts will also consider the standard of living during the marriage, how long it may take your spouse to earn a better wage (through education or experience), the length of the marriage, and the age and health of the spouse seeking maintenance.

Alimony may be ongoing or for a limited amount of time

Depending on the circumstances of your marriage, including the standard of living and the separate property of each spouse, the courts could decide to award one spouse maintenance paid by the other. Sometimes, those payments will only last for a certain number of weeks, months or years. The idea in that situation is for spousal maintenance to provide assistance while the spouse seeks education or employment.

In situations where one spouse has severe physical, emotional or mental disabilities or will provide ongoing care for a special needs child, the courts may award ongoing spousal support. Each situation is unique, making it impossible to predict the exact outcome for any divorce. However, understanding the ideas that guide the court's decision can help you estimate the likelihood of paying spousal support in your divorce.

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