Summary Dissolutions – the Quickie Divorce?Marybeth Sampsel
Montana’s 1991 Legistlature created a simplified process for couples to more quickly and easily end their marraige. Summary dissolutions are reserved for those couples who are in agreement about ALL aspects of their divorce from property distribtuion to parenting. In addition, you and your spouse must meet the following statutory requirements:
1. You or your spouse have lived in Montana (or either of you was a member of the armed services stationed and residing in Montana) for at least 90 days before the filing of the action;
2. Irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, and you both agree that the marriage should be dissolved;
3. The wife is not pregnant AND (a) there are no children from the relationship; or (b) you have agreed-upon and executed a parenting plan and child support and medical support has been determined;
4. Neither of you has any legal interest in real property such as homes, land or buildings. This provision does not apply to a lease on a residence which is occupied by either spouse as long as the lease does not have an option to buy and the lease terminates withint one year from the date the Petition for Dissolution is filed;
5. There are no unpaid, unsecured obligations in excess of $8,000 incurred by either or both of the parties after the date of their marriage. “Unsecured” debts are those that are not secured by a specific piece of property. For example, a credit card debt is generally unsecured debt;
6. The total fair market value of your and your spouse’s assets, excluding secured obligations, is less than $25,000. Assets include all things of value such as vehicles, personal belongings, furniture, etc.;
7. Both of you have signed an agreement agreeing to the division of property and who will be responsible for any bills or obligations. Signed documents, title certificates, bills of sale, or other evidence of transfer or agreement should be presented to the court at the time of your hearing to confirm the division and responsibilities;
8. Both spouses give up their individual right to maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support);
9. Both spouses give up their individual right to appeal the terms of the dissolution and your right to move for a new trial once the marriage is formally dissolved by the court;
10. Both spouse have read and state that you understand the contents of this summary dissolution booklet; and
11. Indicate to the court that you want the court to end the marriage.
While the steps can seem a bit cumbersome at first glance, the summary dissolution process is usually signficantly faster, easier and cheaper than the full dissolution process. Forms for the summary dissolution process can be found online on the Montana Courts website.