MontanaChild Support Laws
Montana Child Support Guide :: Table of Contents
Child support is an ongoing payment by a non-custodial parent to assist with the financial support of their children. Child support payments are often determined during the process of dissolution of a marriage through divorce, though the only requirements for requesting child support payments are establishment of paternity and maternity.
Child support is handled on a state level, and Montana has a set of specific child support guidelines. On this page you can learn about how child support is calculated in Montana, how custody split and extraordinary costs affect child support payments, and more.
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Montana's child support formula directly accounts for parents who share custody of a child, and support payment amounts are connected to the custody split. Other special situations accounted for under Montana's child support law include childcare costs and extraordinary medical costs. These costs may be additions to the basic Montana child support order.
Each district court judgment, decree, or order that establishes paternity or establishes or modifies a child support obligation must include a provision requiring the parties to promptly file with the court and to update, as necessary, information on:
- the party's identity, residential and mailing addresses, telephone number, [social security number,] and driver's license number
- the name, address, and telephone number of the party's employer
- if the child is covered by a health or medical insurance plan, the name of the insurance carrier or health benefit plan, the policy identification number, the names of the persons covered, and any other pertinent information regarding coverage or, if the child is not covered, information as to the availability of coverage for the child through the party's employer.
The order must also require that in any subsequent child support enforcement action, upon sufficient showing that diligent effort has been made to ascertain the location of the party, the district court or the department of public health and human services, if the department is providing services under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, may consider due process requirements for notice and service of process met with respect to the party upon delivery of written notice by regular mail to the most recent address of the party or the party's employer's address reported to the court.
A district court judgment, decree, or order that establishes or modifies a child support obligation must include a provision requiring the child support obligation to be paid, without need for further court order:
- to the person with whom the child resides by legal order
- if the person with whom the child legally resides voluntarily or involuntarily relinquishes physical care and control of the child to another person, organization, or agency, to the person, organization, or agency to whom physical custody has been relinquished
- if any other person, organization, or agency is entitled by law, assignment, or similar reason to receive or collect the child support obligation, to the person, organization, or agency having the right to receive or collect the payment
- to the court for the benefit of the minor child.
Child support can be arranged out of court by a mutual support agreement between the parents, or can be decided in Montana family court through a child support order. In Montana, a number of factors are taken into account when determining the amount of child support to be paid in court. Here is an explanation of the two most common methods used to calculate basic child support amounts.
Income Share Method
Under the income share model, the court uses economic tables to estimate the total monthly cost of raising the children. The non-custodial parent pays a percentage of the calculated cost that is based on their proportional share of both parents' combined income.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month, and the custodial parent has an income of $1,000 per month. The court estimates that the cost of raising one child is $1,000 a month. The non-custodial parent's income is 66.6% of the parent's total combined income. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $666 per month in child support, or 66.6% of the total child support obligation.
Percentage Of Income Method
This method of calculating child support is simple - a set percentage of the non-custodial parent's income is paid monthly to the custodial parent to cover basic child support expenses. The percentage paid may stay the same, or vary if the non-custodial parent's income changes.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month. The court orders a flat percentage of 25% of the non-custodial parent's income to be paid in child support to the custodial parent. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $500 per month in child support. If the non-custodial parent's monthly income changes, the dollar amount they pay in child support will change as well.
Montana Child Support FAQ
- How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Montana?
- How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Montana?
- How are child care costs treated by child support in Montana?
- Does child support cover college education expenses in Montana?
- How is child support enforced in Montana?
- What are child support arrears?
- How are child support payments taxed in Montana?
How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Montana?
All states have a method of modifying the amount of child support owed in cases where the custody agreement provides for joint or shared custody of a child between both parents.
Montana law accounts for shared custody of a child directly in the child support formula used to calculate payment amounts. This means that, in cases where custody is shared, the amount of child support paid by the paying parent will be reduced according to the amount of time they have custody of the child.
How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Montana?
Montana has specialized guidelines for the sharing of a child's extraordinary medical care costs that are separate from, and in addition to, basic child support payments. Extraordinary medical costs are generally costs generated by things such as illness, hospital visits, or costly procedures such as getting braces.
Montana treats extraordinary medical care costs as a "mandatory deduction" for basic child support. This means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner's monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
How are child care costs treated by child support in Montana?
Due to the high costs of child care for a single payment, Montana has specialized guidelines that consider child care costs separately from the general costs of raising a child for the purposes of calculating child support payments.
Montana treats child care costs as a "mandatory deduction" for basic child support. This means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner's monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
Does child support cover college education expenses in Montana?
While the state of Montana has no explicit requirement for college expenses to be covered under child support, support for college expense by the non-custodial parent may be voluntarily agreed to by both parties, after which it is contractually enforceable.
How is child support enforced in Montana?
In the state of Montana, child support is enforced by the state child support agency. The state agency handles the location of non-custodial parents, enforcement of support orders, and the handling of unpaid child support arrears.
What are child support arrears?
Child support arrears are the amount of child support that is delinquent, or unpaid, by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. Child support arrears may be collected by the state through wage garnishment, bank levy. withholding of Montana welfare benefits, or other collection methods.
How are child support payments taxed in Montana?
Under IRS guidelines, the recepient of child support does not need to pay federal tax on child support payments, and the payer of child support cannot deduct their child support payments. This differs from the federal taxation of alimony payments, which are treated as taxable income by the receiver and are deductible by the payor. Montana tax law may vary on tax treatment of child support.