Family Law Q&A - First Edition
I asked my Facebook followers to submit family law questions to me for a blog Q&A. All except one inquiry came in via private messenger. So as to not divulge anyone's personal information, I have shortened and simplified the questions I did receive, and I'll keep it to three at a time for each edition of Family Law Q&A that I do!
1. My spouse cheated on me, that means I will get more in the divorce, right?
Nope. Montana is a "no fault" state. That means that people can divorce in Montana without proving that either party did something wrong. While it sucks for you, and does not make your spouse look like a wonderful and principled person if it does come out during the proceedings, it ultimately has no bearing on the final determination of your divorce, nor does it figure in to your parenting plan or division of property.
2. My ex does not come and get the kids on time, can I report this to the Court, or call the cops?
While you can, I would not recommend it. Why? First of all, it does not reflect well on you. Not only does it look like you are trying to "nitpick," but there is nothing that the Court or the cops can really do. No one can force your ex to be on schedule, or show up at all.
Secondly, this sort of violation of your parenting plan reflects poorly on them when the time is right. What do I mean by that? I mean that if your parenting plan ever goes to hearing, you can bring up a history of not showing up on time/at all for a visit. That makes them look less than enthusiastic about parenting, and establishes a history and a pattern. This is more useful to you, and to the Court, than reporting every missed visit or schedule violation.
One of the golden mantras of contested family law is "document, document, document." So if your ex has a pattern of missing visits or showing up super late, write it down in case you need it later. Then, try to put it out of your head and do something fun with your child(ren), if they can conceptualize time, it is likely much harder on them than on you.
3. When dividing property, the law requires that split everything 50/50, correct?
No, not correct. In Montana, the court will "equitably apportion" property based upon a number of factors set forth in statute. This approach leaves room for the Court to consider such things as the "nonmonetary contributions of a homemaker," the "the age, health, station, occupation. . . " among other factors. The Court weighs all of the factors set forth in the law, and renders a decision based on those factors.
That's all for now, stay tuned for more editions of Q&A!