Adultery in Montana: Does Cheating Affect Alimony?

Learn whether an extramarital affair can impact spousal support in Montana.

Adultery can be devastating to a marriage. In some states, a spouse who commits adultery during the marriage isn’t eligible to receive alimony. In these states, if you’re responsible for breaking up the marriage by cheating, you lose the right to be financially supported after divorce.

If you're going through a divorce as a result of adultery, you may be wondering whether infidelity in your marriage changes you or your spouse’s right to alimony in Montana. This article explains some of the basics of alimony in Montana and the effects that adultery has in a divorce.

Overview of Alimony in Montana

When couples divorce, often one spouse does not have enough income to make ends meet. For this reason, courts in Montana often order the spouse with more financial resources (the paying spouse) to make payments to the other spouse (the supported spouse); these payments are called alimony, or “spousal maintenance,” in Montana.

For a Montana court to award alimony, the court has to decide that a spouse doesn’t have enough property or funds to pay for reasonable needs. The court also has to find that the spouse can’t work or has childcare duties that would make it inappropriate to work.

Alimony is usually paid in monthly amounts, called “periodic alimony,” but it can also be paid in a lump sum, or by transferring property. Alimony can be permanent, lasting until the supported spouse dies or remarries, or temporary, lasting a certain period of time, or until some event happens, such as the supporting spouse completing school or getting a job.

Courts consider the following factors when deciding whether to award alimony:

  • the finances of the spouse seeking alimony
  • the finances of the spouse asked to pay alimony
  • how long it would take for the spouse seeking alimony to find a job
  • the spouses’ standard of living during the marriage
  • the age and health of the spouse seeking alimony, and
  • the ability of the spouse paying alimony to support both spouses’ needs.

Montana doesn’t use a formula to calculate alimony; the court takes the facts and circumstances of each case into account. For more on alimony in Montana, read Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Montana.

How Does Adultery Impact Alimony in Montana?

Montana law states that a husband and wife owe each other mutual respect and fidelity. Being unfaithful to your spouse is breaking the contract of marriage. Cheating on a spouse, however, doesn’t make you ineligible to receive alimony in a divorce or separation in Montana. Montana law says that courts can’t consider any marital misconduct when determining alimony.

What Else Does Adultery Impact?

Montana law is clear that adultery, and other misconduct during the marriage, does not affect alimony. Adultery also usually does not affect the court’s property division during a divorce or separation.

However, the court may consider any money spent on an affair during the marriage when deciding how to divide the couple’s property, but won’t award a cheating spouse less property for the affair itself. Montana courts also don’t consider adultery when deciding custody and visitation of children.

Resources

If you have other questions about alimony and adultery in Montana after reading this article, contact a local experienced family law attorney.

To read the full text of the law on alimony in Montana, see the Montana Code Annotated, §40-4-203.

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