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Is Montana a common law state?

Resolved Question:

what are the common law marriage laws in the state of Montana
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 7 years ago.

Hello. I am a licensed attorney, and I will be glad to try and answer your question.

In Montana, the requirements for a common-law marriage are: (1) capacity to consent to the marriage; (2) an agreement to be married; (3) cohabitation; and (4) a reputation of being married. The current law is codified in Montana Code Annotated, Title 40, Chapter 1, "Marriage". A brief but helpful explanatory overview is provided by the State Law Library of Montana. This state is one of a minority of jurisdictions still recognizing the validity of common law marriages.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
my daughter has been living with a man for a little over 9 years and now he has taken a job in another town and said he is not comming back and has sent his mother over to decide what is his and what is my daughters. they have been sharing the bills since they have been together. they have slept in the same bed all this time like they were married. can you tell me what her rights would be..
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 7 years ago.

Hello and thanks for choosing Just Answer®. I am a licensed attorney, and I will be glad to try and assist you. To provide you with accurate information, could you please clarify these points:

  1. Did your daughter and this man present themselves as husband and wife openly in society (i.e. going by "Mr. and Mrs.", etc.)?
  2. Did they publicly act as if they were a "married couple" rather than a pair?
  3. Did they, in effect, say to each other "we are married"?
  4. Did they file a "Declaration of Marriage without Solemnization" with the Clerk of the District Court?

Once I hear back from you, I will be glad to let you know my answer. There may be some delay as I am assisting other customers or am away from my computer. Please rest assured, however, that I will get back to you as soon as possible.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
i will ask her tomorrow and get back to you then. if I would not have known I would have thought they were married
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 7 years ago.

Hello again,

Thanks for writing back -- good to hear from you.

That sounds fine. Once you have a chance to supplement your information, I will be glad to comment in greater depth.

Take care and thanks again for choosing JustAnswer®!

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
talked to my daughter today. she works for Wal-Mart as do I on her discount card he is listed as her spouse and also is he benifishery on her life insurance as her spouse.
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 7 years ago.

Hello again,

Thanks for writing back -- good to hear from you. I will be glad to comment further, and I appreciate your taking the time to provide the additional clarification.

What you have provided is evidence in support of a finding of a common-law marriage. Ultimately, in Montana only a Court can officially make that determination. No one item of evidence is determinative, but at this point the best we can do is proceed as if the status of the marriage has been confirmed.

Turning to your question, namely concerning your daughter's rights, here is how Montana law works in that regard. A common-law marriage is a real marriage and requires a legal Dissolution of Marriage (divorce) to terminate the relationship. The most pressing need at this point is to secure temporary orders from the Court. This is in the form of a restraining order, later turned into an injunction, to maintain the status quo. This would prevent the man from disturbing your daughter's property and prevent him from having his mother come into the home and go through things.

The bottomline is that your daughter is in urgent need of conferring with a family law attorney just as soon as possible. The cheapest way for her to do so is through the State Bar of Montana's free, non-profit, Lawyer Referral and Information Service. She can start the confidential process by calling(###) ###-####Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. If she is unable to afford to meet with a private lawyer, she should contact Montana Legal Services by calling(###) ###-#### ***** wish that things were simpler, but the truth of the matter is that given the attitude of her husband, your daughter is going to need judicial intervention to protect her rights and interests here.

I hope this information is of some additional help and that all of this works out properly for your daughter in this matter.

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