There are two types of retroactive child support that can be awarded in Montana. The first is the initial award of child support. In the case of a marriage, the Montana Supreme Court has ruled that District Courts can award retroactive child support back to the separation of the parties. So, once the child support payment amount is determined, the Court can require the paying party to make up for all the time since the separation they he or she has not been paying. This can amount to a great deal of money when you consider that some divorce cases go on for years and years.
For the parent receiving the payments, this can be a good thing. For the parent placed in a position of needing to come up with this money, it can be devastating. This just enforces the need for accurate child support calculations early on in the proceedings. Although the District Court has the ultimate authority on what the amount will be, the law requires the Court have good reason to depart from the result created by the guidelines. Knowing what your child support amount will be early on can make a huge difference.
The second type of retroactive child support payments comes from child support modification actions. As time goes on, things change. Income and expenses included. So what was a fair child support calculation five years ago may not longer reflect reality. Montana law doesn’t require that you be stuck with a calculation and allows a legal action to change it. If you’re interested in this, you should contact a Montana child support attorney to discuss your case.
The law allows these modifications to be retroactive, but to a more limited extent than what we discussed earlier. In this types of cases, the modification can only be retroactive to the time when the other parent received notice of the proposed modification. Generally, this is a much shorter time period than between separation of a married couple and their final dissolution. But, administrative and court cases can drag on for extended periods of time which then multiplies the final amount due.
The danger of retroactive child support (or the benefit depending on which side your on) is how quickly it adds up. Knowing what your ultimate obligation is going to be is one of the best ways to protect you. Our Montana Child Support Calculator follows the state guidelines to produce an accurate result. Don’t be fooled by other supposed calculators that just do an estimate and ignore Montana law.