The family law courts know that the lives of parents and their children are bound to change in unpredictable ways after divorce. A support order that worked in the beginning may no longer be reasonable as children grow and parents navigate their separate lives.
In Montana, either parent can ask the Child Support Services Division to review their order if they believe current support amounts are no longer appropriate.
When might the CSSD approve support modification?
Parents can request a review from the CSSD if at least 36 months have passed since the last order went into effect. However, parents can also request a review sooner if their circumstances or their children’s circumstances have changed dramatically, making the current order unworkable.
What are examples of dramatic changes in circumstances?
The CSSD may alter support amounts if a child’s care-related expenses or a parent’s financial resources have changed significantly. Examples include:
- Either or both parents’ income has increased or decreased by at least 30%
- A child’s medical, daycare or other support expenses have increased or decreased substantially
- There has been a change in custody arrangements
How does the process work?
Once the CSSD has received a request for review, the agency will decide whether a review is appropriate and confirm each parent’s financial information. The CSSD will then use Montana’s Child Support Guidelines to calculate a new payment amount and notify both parents of the results.
Both parents may agree to the proposed changes. However, if either spouse objects, a hearing will be necessary, and a judge will determine new support amounts.