The only way that she will be entitled to a portion of your property is if you are recognized as common law married. There is common law marriage in Montana. There is not a clear bright line to determine if you are common law married. There are three elements to common law marriage:
First, the parties must be competent to enter into a marriage. This means that both parties are unmarried, over age 18 and mentally competent.
Second, the parties entered into the marital arrangement by mutual consent and agreement. This essentially means that both parties agreed to the relationship. This element is one where she would have to prove that at some point you agreed to be married to her.
And finally third, the parties confirmed their marriage by cohabitation and public repute. In the Matter of the Estate of Ober. 62 P2d 1114, 314 Mont. 20, 2003 MT 7
The court cases in Montana have been generally concerned with the final part of the third test, cohabitation and public repute. As stated before, there is no bright line. Cohabitation, living together, is one issue that the Court will look at, but it alone is not the determinative factor. Keeping different last names is not proof positive one way or the other. Maintaining separate financial accounts or having joint accounts may not matter. A common law marriage will not be found where it was kept secret from the community. The parties must present themselves as husband and wife openly. The court looks at all the facts which are presented and at the various competing public policies of the State of Montana.
Two competent individuals could live together their whole adult lives and never form a common law marriage - if they never said to the community at large that they were husband and wife, never acted as if they were a “married couple” rather than a pair, and never said to each other “we are married”.
If you are not common law married then she is not legally entitled to any assets, including the home, that you acquired with your income.
I cannot provide you with legal advise. I have provided you with information about the law related to your question. My answer, and any information that you find online, should not take the place of having a consultation with a lawyer in your area to advise you regarding your specific issues.
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