Support Order Modification
A support order modification is similar to the process used when a support order is established. The Montana Child Support Guidelines must be used to determine the new amount because it may change.
Reviewing the Terms of the Support Order
You may ask the Child Support Services Division (CSSD) to review the existing support order terms if it has been at least 36 months since the date the order was entered or last reviewed. If you request a review less than 36 months after the support order was established or last reviewed, you must show that a significant change of circumstances has occurred. Some examples of significant change are:
- physical custody of the child has changed
- the child’s daycare or medical expenses have changed
- number of children involved has changed
- income of one or both of the parent's has changed by at least 30%.
Both parents may consent to the modification. If either parent does not agree on the new support obligation, a hearing may be requested. During the hearing an administrative law judge will determine the amount of the support obligation. Please review the information about Administrative Hearings.
Steps to Modifying a Support Order
The steps below indicate the usual process of modifying a support order through the CSSD. It usually takes no more than 180 days, but it may be longer or finished sooner depending on the specifics of the case. A modification that requires District Court involvement requires additional steps any may take longer to complete. If you have questions about the modification process, please contact the investigator assigned to your case.
- A parent submits a Request for Review packet.
- This packet can be obtained by contacting the investigator assigned to your case.
- The CSSD reviews the Request for Review packet for completeness and determines if a review of the support order is appropriate.
- At this step the CSSD will also confirm financial information of the parents.
- The CSSD calculates the new amount of support payments and serves notice to the parents.
- Once the modification notice is created the parties will receive copies. This step may slow down the process if it takes repeated attempts to serve the modification notice.
- The parents may correct information, request a hearing or consent to the new terms.
- If neither parent contacts the CSSD the proposed order will be finalized by default, based on the terms in the notice.
- If the CSSD receives additional information and corrections are needed an amended notice may be issued.
- The notice must be read carefully as there are set time-frames involved in requesting a hearing. If a hearing is requested, additional steps are taken at that time. Please review the information about Administrative Hearings.