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When Can A Child Support Order Be Modified In Montana?

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2022 | Family Law |

In Montana family law cases, children come to the forefront. Because they have certain fundamental needs, it is imperative that they are supported financially. Often, this means that the custodial parent will receive payments from the noncustodial parent. This is designed to suit the child’s best interests and provide them with clothes, nutrition, a safe place to live, cover educational expenses, pay for extracurricular activities and more. However, the amount ordered – though based on fundamental guidelines – is not necessarily going to remain the same until the child reaches adulthood. Changes could be required based on circumstances. Parents who want to change the child support agreement should be aware of how to do so.

Key factors about adjusting a child support agreement

For parents who want to modify their child support agreement, the request must be made through the Child Support Services Division (CSSD). There are time requirements with making this request. It can only be done if 36 months have passed since the order was put in effect or reviewed. The change can be made before then but there must be a large enough change in circumstances to warrant it.

For example, if a parent has lost his or her job or suffered a decline in income of at least 30%, this would be enough to have the change made before 36 months have elapsed. Other factors might include having more children, increased costs for basic needs or a change in the custody arrangement. It can take six months for the review and adjustment to take place, so it is wise for parents to be prepared for the wait. Still, the case itself will largely dictate how long it takes. If it is urgent, it might take a shorter amount of time.

When seeking a change to child support, having help can be crucial

Since many people are experiencing financial hardship due to job loss, reduction in salary, medical expenses and inflation, it is not uncommon for there to be a request for a child support modification. For example, if a person was accustomed to paying a specific and consistent amount for food and the recent increase in the prices of goods and services for the child has left them with a shortfall, it could be made up with a child support modification.

This can come from the paying parent or the receiving parent. To move forward with a request and have the order changed or to keep it as is, it is vital for both parents – regardless of the perspective – to understand their rights and how the law handles this complicated terrain. Discussing a case with professionals who are experienced in solving complex family law problems can be helpful. Perhaps there is a reasonable resolution through negotiation. Whether that is possible or the case must go to court, it is wise to have assistance to deal with the issues and reach an acceptable outcome.