40-5-221. Debt to state by obligor -- limitations. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2), any payment of public assistance money made to or for the benefit of a child creates a debt due and owing the state of Montana by the obligor in an amount equal to the amount of public assistance money paid. In the case of an obligor who is an adoptive parent, a debt for public assistance paid may not accrue prior to the date of adoption.
(2) If a support order has been entered, the support debt created by this section may not exceed the amount of the order.
(3) If a child has been placed in foster care and a written agreement for payment of support exists between the obligor and any state agency, the support debt is limited to the amount provided for in the agreement. However, if a support order is or has been entered, the provisions of the order prevail over the agreement.
(4) The department shall adopt rules based on ability to pay, with respect to the level of support to be provided for in the agreements or modifications of the agreements based on changed circumstances.
(5) The department may establish and collect a debt created under this section in a proceeding that is in addition to and independent of the subrogation created by 40-5-202 and the assignment under 53-2-613.