Filing for dissolution of marriage in Montana can be challenging during these difficult times. There are so many things to consider including asset division, spousal support, and child custody. However, there are certain steps you can take prior to filing for divorce that will help you choose the best options for your family going forward.

The first step is often choosing the best way for you and your spouse to go through the divorce process. For instance, couples often find that they can reach a settlement outside of the court room through mediation. The mediation process allows both sides to retain their own attorneys and sit down with a neutral third party to come up with an agreement that is beneficial to both sides. Once an agreement is reached, the parties will go before the court for final approval. If the parties cannot agree, they will go in front a judge, who will make the decision for them. A collaborative divorce may also be an option in that each spouse’s attorneys will meet with various experts (financial analysts, child custody specialists) to help reach a settlement.

Once you have retained a family law attorney in your area, your next step will be putting together your financial information. Property division is one of the most difficult parts of divorce, particularly if you and your spouse have accumulated significant assets over the course of your marriage. So, it is important to collect your tax returns, property records, bank accounts, retirement accounts, debt information (e.g. loans, credit card statements), and other information detailing your marital finances. After you have collected all your financial information, it is important to set up a budget to make sure all your living expenses are being covered during and after the divorce. Your expenses can be used to determine child and spousal support and give you a better idea of how much money you will need to live as a newly divorced person.

You will also need to decide where you are going to live during the process and once it is done. If you have children, coming up with a parenting plan both and your spouse can agree on can also be challenging. Ideally, you will negotiate a plan that is reasonable and in the best interest of your child. However, if you are unable to agree on a child custody arrangement, the court will make the final determination.

Planning for your divorce can make the process much less stressful on you and your family and protect your future.