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Establishment of Support Orders

Before an order for child support can be established, legal paternity must be determined. If paternity is not an issue, the first step in establishing a child support order is to determine the amount of child support to be paid. This is determined by the Montana Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines are required by law and used in all child support cases. The guidelines help determine how much money each parent should contribute for the care of their child.

The Montana guidelines are based on a formula in which the income of both parents are considered. The guidelines also take into consideration information other than income such as the amount of time the child or children spend with each parent, child care expenses, health insurance expenses,  and other children the parents are supporting.  

Child support orders normally include an obligation for health insurance coverage. 

Steps to Establishing a Child Support Order

  1. The Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) will gather the parent's financial information. This information is used to generate a proposed order for child support using the Montana Child Support Guidelines. The CSED uses an administrative notice process to establish new child support orders as authorized by state law. The proposed child support notice and order will show the monthly child support obligation, the health insurance coverage obligation, and the effective date of the order.   
  2.  Once the amount of child support is calculated and the proposed child support notice and order is issued the notice must be served on each parent. The time needed for this step may vary because it may take repeated attempts to serve the notice.
  3. The parents may provide additional information, consent to the proposed child support notice and order, or request a hearing.   
  • If neither parent contacts the CSED the proposed order will be finalized by default, based on the terms in the notice.  
  • If the CSED receives additional information and corrections are needed an amended proposed child support notice and order may be issued. 
  • The notice must be read carefully as there are set time-frames involved in requesting a hearing. If a hearing is requested, additional steps are taken at that time. Please review the information on the Administrative Hearings page. 

If  there are questions about any part of this process please contact the child support office handling the case.