Montana Title 40. Family Law § 40-4-204. Child support--orders to address health insurance--withholding of child support

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(1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance, or child support, the court shall order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child to pay an amount reasonable or necessary for the child's support, without regard to marital misconduct.

(2) The court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(a) the financial resources of the child;

(b) the financial resources of the parents;

(c) the standard of living that the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;

(d) the physical and emotional condition of the child and the child's educational and medical needs;

(e) the age of the child;

(f) the cost of day care for the child;

(g) any parenting plan that is ordered or decided upon;  and

(h) the needs of any person, other than the child, whom either parent is legally obligated to support.

(3)(a) Whenever a court issues or modifies an order concerning child support, the court shall determine the child support obligation by applying the standards in this section and the uniform child support guidelines adopted by the department of public health and human services pursuant to 40-5-209 .  The guidelines must be used in all cases, including cases in which the order is entered upon the default of a party and those in which the parties have entered into an agreement regarding the support amount.  A verified representation of the defaulting parent's income, based on the best information available, may be used when a parent fails to provide financial information for use in applying the guidelines.  The amount determined under the guidelines is presumed to be an adequate and reasonable support award, unless the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the application of the standards and guidelines is unjust to the child or to any of the parties or that it is inappropriate in that particular case.

(b) If the court finds that the guideline amount is unjust or inappropriate in a particular case, it shall state its reasons for that finding.  Similar reasons must also be stated in a case in which the parties have agreed to a support amount that varies from the guideline amount.  Findings that rebut and vary the guideline amount must include a statement of the amount of support that would have ordinarily been ordered under the guidelines.

(c) If the court does not order a parent owing a duty of support to a child to pay any amount for the child's support, the court shall state its reasons for not ordering child support.

(d) Child support obligations established under this section are subject to the registration and processing provisions of Title 40, chapter 5, part 9.

(4) Each temporary or final district court judgment, decree, or order establishing a child support obligation under this title and each modification of a final order for child support must include a medical support order as provided for in Title 40, chapter 5, part 8.

(5)(a) Unless the court makes a written exception under 40-5-315 or 40-5-411 and the exception is included in the support order, a support obligation established by judgment, decree, or order under this section, whether temporary or final, and each modification of an existing support obligation under 40-4-208 must be enforced by immediate or delinquency income withholding, or both, under Title 40, chapter 5, part 3 or 4.  A support order that omits the written exceptions provided in 40-5-315 or 40-5-411 or that provides for a payment arrangement inconsistent with this section is nevertheless subject to withholding for the payment of support without need for an amendment to the support order or for any further action by the court.

(b) If an obligor is exempt from immediate income withholding, the district court judgment or order must include a warning statement that if the obligor is delinquent in the payment of support, the obligor's income may be subject to income-withholding procedures under Title 40, chapter 5, part 3 or 4.  Failure to include a warning statement in a judgment or order does not preclude the use of withholding procedures.

(c) If a support order subject to income withholding is expressed in terms of a monthly obligation, the order may be annualized and withheld on a weekly or biweekly basis, corresponding to the obligor's regular pay period.  When an order is annualized and withheld on a weekly or biweekly basis under this section, the support withheld from the obligor may be retained by the obligee when it exceeds the obligor's monthly support obligation if the excess support is a result of annualized withholding.

(d) If an obligor is exempted from paying support through income withholding, the support order must include a requirement that whenever the case is receiving services under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, support payments must be paid through the department of public health and human services as provided in 40-5-909 .

(6)(a) Each district court judgment, decree, or order that establishes paternity or establishes or modifies a child support obligation must include a provision requiring the parties to promptly file with the court and to update, as necessary, information on:

(i) the party's identity, residential and mailing addresses, telephone number, [social security number,] and driver's license number;

(ii) the name, address, and telephone number of the party's employer;  and

(iii) if the child is covered by a health or medical insurance plan, the name of the insurance carrier or health benefit plan, the policy identification number, the names of the persons covered, and any other pertinent information regarding coverage or, if the child is not covered, information as to the availability of coverage for the child through the party's employer.

(b) The court shall keep the information provided under subsection (6)(a) confidential except that the information may be provided to the department of public health and human services for use in administering Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, to the parties, and to each party's counsel of record.  The information provided under subsection (6)(a) may be included on the case registry and vital statistics reporting form filed with the court pursuant to 40-5-908(1) .

(c) The order must also require that in any subsequent child support enforcement action, upon sufficient showing that diligent effort has been made to ascertain the location of the party, the district court or the department of public health and human services, if the department is providing services under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, may consider due process requirements for notice and service of process met with respect to the party upon delivery of written notice by regular mail to the most recent address of the party or the party's employer's address reported to the court.

(7) A judgment, decree, or order establishing a child support obligation under this part may be modified or adjusted as provided in 40-4-208 or, if the department of public health and human services is providing services under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, may be modified or adjusted by the department as provided for in 40-5-271 through 40-5-273 , 40-5-277 , and 40-5-278 .

(8)(a) A district court judgment, decree, or order that establishes or modifies a child support obligation must include a provision requiring the child support obligation to be paid, without need for further court order:

(i) to the person with whom the child resides by legal order;

(ii) if the person with whom the child legally resides voluntarily or involuntarily relinquishes physical care and control of the child to another person, organization, or agency, to the person, organization, or agency to whom physical custody has been relinquished;

(iii) if any other person, organization, or agency is entitled by law, assignment, or similar reason to receive or collect the child support obligation, to the person, organization, or agency having the right to receive or collect the payment;  or

(iv) to the court for the benefit of the minor child.

(b) When the department of public health and human services is providing services under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, payment of support must be made through the department for distribution to the person, organization, or agency entitled to the payment.

(c) A judgment, decree, or order that omits the provision required by subsection (8)(a) is subject to the requirements of subsection (8)(a) without need for an amendment to the judgment, decree, or order or for any further action by the court.

(9) A judgment, decree, or order that establishes or modifies a child support obligation must include a provision that if a parent or guardian is the obligee under a child support order and is obligated to pay a contribution for the same child under 41-3-438 , 41-5-1304 , or 41-5-1512 , the parent or guardian assigns and transfers to the department of public health and human services all rights that the parent or guardian may have to child support that are not otherwise assigned under 53-2-613 .

(10) The court shall seal any qualified domestic relations order, as defined in section 414(p) of the Internal Revenue Code , 26 U.S.C. 414(p) , that is issued under this part except for access by the pension plan administrator of the plan for which benefits are being distributed by the order, the child support enforcement division, the parties, and each party's counsel of record.


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