In ALL dissolution cases, parenting cases or separation cases involving minor children, the court must establish a Child Support and Medical Support Order for the support of the minor children. By the time parties find themselves in District Court, they may already have an active child support case with the Montana Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED). For example, individuals who receive public assistance under Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are automatically referred to CSED. If parties already have an Order through CSED, the court may simply refer to the Child Support and Medical Support Order established by CSED and acknowledge that it is valid. If you are already receiving services from CSED or if you are receiving public assistance under the TANF program, you must notify CSED that you are filed for dissolution of marriage, a parenting plan, or a legal separation.
If CSED has not already established a Child Support and Medical Support Order, the District Court will issue a Child Support Order based on the Montana Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines are a set of uniform child support guidelines adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services that make it possible to have consistent, predictable child support obligations in family law cases.
Many family law attorneys, as well as most self-help law programs, have a computer software program that does the complicated calculations automatically. The parties each provide basic financial information using the Montana Child Support Guidelines Affidavit (which can be found online at: http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/csed/packet/financialaffidavit.pdf). The information on each parties’ Financial Affidavit is plugged in and child support is calculated by the program.
The major factors considered in determining child support are the following:
1. How many days per year the child(ren) spends with each parent;
2. The cost of daycare:
3. The financial resources available to each parent and the child(ren);
4. The standard of living the child would have had if the parents were still together:
5. The child(ren)’s emotional, educational, physical/medical needs; and
6. The age of the child(ren).
Along with a Child Support Order, the court must issue a Medical Support Order addressing how the parents will cover the cost of medical insurance and medical expenses for the minor child(ren). Generally, if a parent has medical insurance available through his/her employer at a reasonable cost, that parent must provide health insurance cover for the child(ren). If both parents have access to health plans, they may both be required to provide coverage.