A Due Process Wrinkle for Child Support

January 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Helping a client collect past-due child support can be devilishly difficult, particularly when the obligated parent disappears, or tries to.

If you will look at MCA 93-11-65(5) and (7), you may find some help.

MCA 93-11-65(5) mirrors UCCR 8.06 in its requirement that both parties in cases involving minor children must keep each other and the court informed of the party’s residence address and telephone number. It goes further, however, for child support cases, and requires that both parties notify each other and the court and the state child support registry of the party’s ” … location and identity, including social security number, residdential and mailing addresses, telephone numbers, photograph, driver’s license number, and name, address and telephone number of the party’s employer.” The information is required upon entry of an order or within five days of a change of address. [Note: Although the statute specifically refers to change of address, it would seem that a court order could direct updating on change of any particular].

Applying the foregoing, you will do your child support client a great service by making sure that the above language is in every child support order you submit to the court, and that you make sure that the appropriate information on both parties is filed as required, including with the state registry, as directed in the statute.

Why go to that trouble?

Well, that’s where MCA 93-11-65(7) comes in. It provides that “In any subsequent child support enforcement action between the parties, upon sufficient showing that diligent effort has been made to ascertain the location of a party, due process requirements for notice and service of process shall be deemed to be met with respect to the party upon delivery of written notice to the most recent residential or employer address filed with the state case registry.”

So, after diligent search and inquiry to locate the slacker, you issue process to his or her last reported residence address or employer, and — Volia! — you have personal jurisdiction under the statute. Note the language “filed with the state case registry.” That’s a key component. You must have seen to it that the info was filed with the state registry.

The case registry is provided for in MCA 43-19-31(l)(ii) [that’s lowercase L], and is to be maintained by DHS.

To be honest, I have yet to see anyone avail themselves of this procedure. If you have had experience with it, I would welcome your comments. It seems to me to be quite advantageous to private parties trying to enforce child support obligations

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