Child Support

How is child support determined?

In Montana, child support is determined according to the Montana Child Support Guidelines.   Numerous factors are considered.  Primary factors include the parents’ respective incomes, the number of parenting days each parent has, daycare expenses, and health insurance.  The Montana Child Support Guidelines provide a constellation of additional factors considered in computing child support.

Must the Montana Child Support Guideline amount be ordered in every case?

No.  Although the guideline amount is presumed adequate, Court’s may order a different amount of child support if the guideline amount is determined to be inappropriate or unjust to the child or any party.  Parents may stipulate to a variance from the guidelines, provided the agreement is in writing, free of coercion, states why the guideline amount is unjust and inappropriate, states the guideline amount, and is approved by the Court or in an administrative proceeding.

How is income defined for purposes of determining child support?

Income is defined broadly under the Montana Child Support Guidelines to include any economic benefit from whatever source derived, as well as imputed income.  Income for purposes of determining child support is not limited to income as defined by the IRS or Montana’s Department of Revenue.  Only some sources of income are excluded, such as means-tested veteran’s benefits and public assistance benefits, supplemental social security income, and child support payments from other sources.   

I remarried.  Is my new spouse’s income factored into the Montana Child Support Guidelines?  

No.  Income for purposes of child support does not include income attributable to subsequent spouses, domestic associates, and other persons part of the parent’s household.  

Is overtime pay treated as income?

If overtime is mandatory, it is treated as income.  If overtime is voluntary and the earnings are not expected to continue into the foreseeable future, then overtime is not treated as income.   If overtime is voluntary and the earnings are expected to continue into the foreseeable future, the earnings are presumed to be available for child support and are included in the calculation subject to a rebuttal of the presumption.  

What is imputed income?

Imputed income is income attributed to a parent for purposes of calculating child support, which is not actually earned by the parent.  Income may be imputed under certain circumstances, such as when a parent is unemployed, underemployed, or a student.    

How long does child support last?
Under Montana law, child support obligations generally continue until a child is emancipated or the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs first, but in no event later than the child's 19th birthday.  
            
Calculation of child support requires consideration of many factors and can be confusing.   Your and your child’s financial circumstances are at stake.  Call André Gurr at Garden City Law to protect your rights, either as a payor or recipient of child support, and help secure a just and appropriate amount of child support. Prompt, precise, and professional service is guaranteed.  Consultations are confidential, and usually free of charge.  As an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney in Missoula, André provides legal services throughout Western Montana, including Missoula, Mineral, Ravalli, Lake, Sanders, Flathead, Lewis and Clark, and Beaverhead County.  

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