The child support staff works to support the financial and medical support of children by assisting families with services such as: establishing and enforcing child support orders, locating absent parents, and assisting in establishing paternity. Take a closer look at how child support works in Montana.
Do I Qualify For Child Support?
Families who are currently receiving public assistance under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program will automatically be referred to the Child Support Enforcement Division.
In almost all cases, families who receive this type of assistance are actually required to participate and cooperate fully with Montana’s child support program. In this situation, when the child support is collected from the non-custodial parent, it is given directly back to the state in order to reimburse the welfare funds that have been paid to the family.
But you do not have to get public assistance in order to qualify for Montana child support. Families who do not receive public assistance can fill out an application with the State to receive child support services. For these families, the money that is collected for child support is forwarded directly to the custodial parent.
In addition, you can qualify for assistance from the Montana child support office even if you, or your child’s other parent, do not reside in Montana. The Montana child support staff can work hand-in-hand with child support agencies in other states to see that your child’s financial and medical needs are cared for.
Are There Any Fees Charged For Montana Child Support Services?
The Child Support Enforcement Division is required to charge an application fee to individuals applying for child support services. This fee is non-refundable, even if the child support staff determines that they cannot assist you with your case. The fee is based on the gross annual household income of the family and set on a sliding scale basis as follows:
Gross annual household income is:
Greater than $20,000 (Fee is $25)
$10,000 to $20,000 (Fee is $15)
Less than $10,000 (Fee is $5)
I am receiving Medicaid (No Fee)
What Child Support Services Are Available In Montana?
Financial Support: Montana’s child support office can work with families to help make sure the financial needs of the children are provided for. The child support staff will assist with paternity establishment, locating an absent parent, establishing a child support order, reviewing and modifying a child support order, enforcing court orders for child support, collecting child support payments and ensuring that these payments are distributed to the custodial parent.
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Medical Support: In addition to caring for the financial needs of their children, parents are also obligated to provide health insurance coverage, if it is available at a reasonable price. The cost of medical coverage is factored in to the amount of child support that the non-custodial parent is required to pay.
How Is The Amount of Child Support Determined?
Like all states, Montana has outlined specific guidelines to be used to determine the amount of child support that will be awarded in each case. These guidelines are based on the financial needs of the child and the ability of both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent to cover these needs.
Factors that influence the amount of child support awarded include the number of children involved, where the children reside, and the amount of income earned by each parent. Child-care expenses and health care expenses are also taken into account.
Can A Child Support Order Be Modified?
If your child support case is still open with the Montana Child Support Enforcement Division, the child support staff will review and if necessary modify, your child support order every 36 months. The child support staff will also review child support orders that are less than 36 months old in special circumstances, when the financial or custodial situation of either party have changed significantly.
Examples of situations that might warrant an earlier review of your case include: when one parent’s income changes or if the child is no longer living with the custodial parent. If you would like to submit a request for modification, contact the regional office that handles your case. You may also wish to consult an attorney to assist you with this process.
What Montana Child Support Payment Methods Are Available?
Montana’s State law requires that all new and modified child support orders include a provision for income withholding. This means that child support payments will be automatically deducted from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck and forwarded to Montana’s child support office for disbursal. Child support payments can also be deducted from a non-custodial parent’s unemployment benefits or workers’ compensation benefits.
How Will I Receive Montana Child Support Payments?
For the past few years, the State of Montana has been using the Montana Access Card (MAC) for the distribution of child support payments. The MAC card allows the child support office to deposit each recipient’s payments directly into an account for a debit card. You can then use the card at various points of sale and ATM machines statewide to access their child support payments.
The child support office can also deposit your child support payments directly into your bank account; or they can issue a paper check. In most cases, the child support office will process and distribute funds within one day of when they are received.
Can Montana Child Support Office Work Across State Lines?
If any of the parties involved in the child support case resides in another state, Montana’s child support staff can still provide child support services.
There are agreements in place between all fifty states that allow comparable child support offices to work together to locate non-custodial parents, establish paternity, establish and enforce child support orders, and see that Montana child support payments are collected and distributed appropriately.
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