Montana Court Records
What is Child Support and When does it Occur in Montana?
When parents in Montana split up, the state judiciary ensures that their differences and grievances are set aside for the children’s benefit. The court ensures that the parents financially support their children through child support. In Montana, child support focuses on meeting a child’s financial and basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Usually, the parent that pays child support is the non-custodial parent who spends less than 50% of the time with the children involved, while the receiving parent lives with the child for the most part. The court awards these child support payments to the receiving parent with the presumption that they are spent directly on the children’s needs and for their best interests.
Child support issues in Montana are governed by Chapter 40 of the Montana Revised Code. With these laws, including the child support guidelines, the state streamlines the process of calculating child support payments. In situations where the paying parent fails to pay child support, the Montana Child Support Enforcement Division is the state-run department that enforces child support payments in the state.
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What is Montana Child Support?
Child support in Montana is an ongoing court-ordered payment paid directly or indirectly by one parent to another. The payment is usually intended to handle care and support of children from a terminated relationship, such as marriages that have been dissolved. Typically, the state judiciary makes child support decisions during the divorce process. Other times, marriage is not required to determine child support payments because the only requirements for requesting child support in Montana are the establishment of paternity and maternity.
The district court issues child support orders to enforce child support obligations. Failure to abide by the terms and conditions of this order could be considered a crime. The order usually accounts for the parents, their incomes, custody arrangements, and childcare expenses. It further affirms the deduced amount of child support obligation required of the paying parent and how often the payment should be made.
What Does Child Support Cover in Montana?
Child support payments are intended to protect a child’s best interests. This usually entails ensuring that the child’s primary and extraordinary needs are met regardless of the parents’ split. Basic needs that child support payments address in Montana include the child’s living arrangements, educational requirements, feeding, clothing, entertainment, child care costs, etc.
Additionally, the child support payments are also dedicated to a child’s medical care costs. Due to their potentially high costs, the state addresses a child’s extraordinary medical care costs separately from essential child support payments. They generally include costs incurred when handling a child’s illness, hospital visits, or other costly and special procedures.
Also, although the state has no explicit requirement for child support payments to cover college expenses or other extraordinary expenses, the costs may be covered in a child support order. However, this is only if the parties agree to address the specific need, then, it becomes enforceable.
What is the Average Child Support Payment in Montana?
The state of Montana determines the amount of child support based on the circumstances surrounding the family. The Administrative Rules of Montana, Title 37, Chapter 62, Subchapter 102 guidelines govern child support allocation in Montana, and they are based on the Melson Formula.
Using this formula to calculate child support, the state courts start by allocating each parent a poverty self-support reserve after reviewing their combined incomes. Afterward, the formula then determines the child support amount from the total remaining combined parental income and the number of children.
Although it is common for the non-custodial parent to pay child support, the court may order either or both parents to pay child support according to Section 40 of the Montana Codes. This judgment is made based on the following:
- The child’s financial resources, if any
- The lifestyle the child would have enjoyed if the parents were not separated
- The child’s emotional, educational and physical needs
- The financial resources available to the parents
- Their financial needs and obligations
- The child’s age
- The parenting plan
- The provision of health and medical insurance for the child (if it is obtainable at a reasonable cost).
Overall, the state courts calculate child support by using the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Child Support Worksheet. This worksheet generates the appropriate support obligation according to the parent’s actual and imputed incomes.
Occasionally, during amicable divorce proceedings, mostly in uncontested divorce hearings, child support can be arranged out of court through a mutual support agreement between the parents. The state courts encourage this idea because it is more comfortable and convenient for parents to adhere to their arrangements. However, if the court deduces the child support obligation and a party considers the judgment to be unfair, they may challenge the amount by rebutting the presumption. They must prove to the court with clear and convincing evidence that the amount is unjust to the concerned parties. If the court agrees, the amount would be increased or decreased, and the child support order finalized.
How do I apply for Child Support in Montana?
Parents or caregivers with physical custody of a child can apply for child support services in Montana. They may begin the application process by using the application forms provided on the Child Support Services Division Website. They may fill the application based on the service they require from the department. The services they render include:
- Paternity Establishment
- Support Order Establishment
- Enforcement of Support Orders
- Modification of Support Orders
- Child Support Payments
- Locating a Parent
After filling out the application form, a non-refundable $25 application fee applies.
How do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in Montana?
A paying parent in Montana can legally get out of paying child support when the child becomes emancipated at 18, graduates from high school, or turns 19. However, the court may extend the order till after legal emancipation if the child has specific needs.
Because parents cannot waive child support in Montana, the state can modify a child support order to accommodate changes in circumstances that may affect the paying parent’s ability to pay. Any parent seeking modification must wait 12 months before asking the court to make adjustments unless the amendment concerns the child’s medical care.
Before the court can make a modification, the petitioners must justify it. To do that, the court requires a written agreement by both parents or proof that a situation change makes payment at the current rate difficult. Such changes may include loss of a job or even incarceration.
What is Back Child Support in Montana?
Back child support in Montana constitutes arrears of child support and retroactive support. They are child support payments that remain unpaid. The arrears of child support are the payments that the paying parent was required by court order to pay to the custodial parent, while retroactive support is the child support payment that should have been ordered by the court in the past. Hence, unlike arrears of child support payment, retroactive support has no pre-existing court order.
The state awards 2 types of retroactive support:
- The initial award of child support: In this case, the district Courts can award retroactive child support back to the time of separation or divorce of the parents. Therefore, even after child support is determined during the divorce proceedings, the court can require the paying party to make payments for all the other party’s costs in child care expenses since the separation.
- Retroactive child support payments from child support modification actions: This occurs when a paying parent is asked to make up for the costs incurred from the time a modification was proposed. This usually constitutes a shorter period than the initial award of child support.
How do I Get Back Child Support Paid in Montana?
The state of Montana finds a non-payment of child support payments burdensome. As a result, the state vigorously enforces payment through the Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED), of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. The agency employs a full range of administrative enforcement remedies such as:
- Income withholding
- Professional and driver’s license suspension
- Credit bureau reporting which may damage the individual’s credit ratings
- Court action
- Intercepting the paying parent’s state tax returns, etc.
Before taking any enforcement action, the department serves the non-custodial parent with a notice as required by law. The notice informs the individual of the proposed action and of the time period for requesting a hearing, usually within 20 days of service of the notice.
Is there a Montana Statutes of Limitation on Child Support?
Yes, there is a statute of limitations on child support enforcement in Montana. For child support debts accrued before 10/1/1993, the statute of limitations on child support enforcement is 10 years from the date of payment. In contrast, the statute of limitation for debt accrued after 10/1/1993 is 10 years after the child support obligation’s legal termination.