The court system in Montana has significant latitude in establishing child support orders. State guidelines use a consistent standard throughout the various departments and related agencies. According to Montana Child Support Guidelines, each case is determined based on the circumstances and individual needs of the child. The goal is to ensure the marriage dissolution does not adversely affect the child’s standard of living.
Typically, the parent who spends less than 50 percent of the time with the child pays support. However, the Montana Child Support Enforcement Division, states both parents must be involved in supporting the child. Payment amounts take a variety of relevant factors into consideration:
- The child’s age
- The child’s educational needs
- Support obligations of another person that a parent must meet
- The physical and emotional condition of the child
- Medical and health insurance provisions
- The child’s financial resources
The minimum child support obligation calculations use the Melson formula, which allocates a poverty self-support reserve for each parent. It then determines the remaining combined income of both parents. A standard percentage of the noncustodial parent’s income and the number of children involved provide the baseline for the primary support obligation.
There are personal allowance amounts and specific deductions from each parent’s income allowed by law. An additional percentage of the remaining verifiable income and the final support amount paid by the noncustodial parent is determined once each component of the formula is identified.
CSED can modify support orders based on specific financial circumstances of either parent. However, the amount determined as necessary for a child’s continued health and well-being does not consider marital misconduct as relevant.