HELENA – Under current Montana law, Noncustodial parents who pay child support can petition the court to terminate payments when the minor child has
That law failed to address how maintenance should be paid if the child becomes disabled or is born with a disability. Fortunately, change is coming.
HB 726, brought to vote during the 66th Regular Session of the Montana Legislature, takes effect July 1, 2019, and will allow custodial parents to continue receiving child support for their disabled child. This makes Montana one of few states who have specific language dictating if and when child support should end for disabled children.
A hearing can be requested by either noncustodial or custodial parent so the judge can determine whether the individual is no longer disabled or is no longer financially dependent on the custodial parent.
By petitioning the court to either reestablish or extend child support obligations, custodial parents can care for children who become adults but lack the wherewithal or physical ability to take care of themselves. The extension of child support payments is not guaranteed unless there is an active support order. Terminated orders require a verified petition to reinstate the previous order, or a new order must be filed.
Sponsored by Rep. Mary Caferro (D), custodial parents have another method of continuing child support payments with this addition to Montana law. The money will help offset out-of-pocket expenses that come with caring for a disabled child, including home health care and handicap vehicles.
A $5,000 appropriation will be made to the Montana general fund to hire staff to implement and enforce the new law, although federal grant money will be made available.
You can see the bill’s history, including sponsors and dates, at the Montana Legislature website.