Even if a divorce happens by mutual decision, it can be overwhelming to face the prospect of suddenly having to provide for one’s sole support. Regardless of the circumstances under which the divorce occurs, Montana law provides a safety net for divorcing individuals who may be unable to support themselves. It is commonly known as alimony, sometimes also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance.
Typically, an individual seeks alimony from a former spouse when he or she either has no individual income or when that income is insufficient to provide for his or her needs. For example, a father who stays home as the primary caregiver of his children or a mother who works part time while her children are in school would be unable to support themselves without their respective spouses’ income. According to Montana state law, provision is also made for the custodial parent of a child whose care requirements are so great that the parent cannot seek employment due to the necessity of caring for the child. The court decides amount and duration of the maintenance order based on certain facts, which include the marriage’s duration, the couple’s established standard of living, the age and condition (physical and emotional) of the spouse seeking maintenance and the financial resources of each party.
Alimony is not intended to last forever. According to FindLaw, the courts usually order alimony as a rehabilitative measure in order to give the recipient time to receive any necessary job training, find gainful employment and become self-supporting. A maintenance order is also typically discontinued in the event of the recipient spouse’s remarriage. However, there are circumstances in which spousal support may continue indefinitely. For example, in the event of the payer’s death, the court may require spousal support payments to continue from the decedent’s estate if the recipient spouse is unable to secure employment due to age or infirmity.
As the culture evolves, so does family law, and as economic and caregiving roles shift within the family, so do the trends in alimony cases. While once considered atypical, a man receiving spousal maintenance from his ex-wife is becoming more common as marriages are increasingly comprised of two wage earners. As the goal of a divorce case is an equitable settlement for both parties, the recipient spouse’s gender does not factor into the maintenance order.