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What is Child Support and When does it Occur in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, the law requires parents, whether divorced, separated, or unmarried, to contribute financially to the welfare of minor children. The child support amount parents pay for each child varies and depend on several factors, including the parents’ income, the number of children the parents have to support, and the custody arrangement.

Custody arrangements determine which parent has residential responsibility (physical custody) and which parent has decision-making responsibility (legal custody). Typically, custody and child support arrangements are part of the divorce process; however, in cases where the parents cannot agree on the right plans or the parents were never married, the court will make decisions considering the child’s best interests. North Dakota courts may award joint physical and legal custody to both parents; this means that both parents have decision-making and residential responsibility. The court may also award legal custody to one parent and physical custody to the other parent. A third option is that one parent gets both physical and legal custody; however, the court’s decision in each case depends on the particulars of each case.

The Child Support Division of the Department of Human Services enforces child support orders, collects and disburses payments in North Dakota.

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What is North Dakota Child Support?

Child support in North Dakota is a monthly or ongoing payment that parents make to support the welfare and development of minor children. Typically, the obligor (non-custodial parent) pays the obligee (the custodial parent) child support in cash. Child support may be part of a divorce proceeding, but unmarried couples can also bring child support actions to the District Court. In order to establish a child support order, the court must first determine the child’s paternity. North Dakota uses Child Support Guidelines created by the Department of Human Services to determine child support payment amounts.

What Does Child Support Cover in North Dakota?

Child support payments are to support minor children’s welfare and development and to maintain the children’s living standards. As such, child support payments cover the child’s basic needs and other expenses:

  • Basic needs: this includes housing, feeding, and clothing. Rent, mortgage, utilities, and groceries fall under this category.
  • Entertainment: toys, games, internet access, TV, and other forms of entertainment are essential to a child’s development.
  • Education: this includes school fees, uniforms, books, school trips, and private tutor fees where necessary.
  • Medical expenses: Medical insurance and extraordinary medical expenses all fall under this category.
  • Transportation: travel and transportation fares, including the cost of trips to and from the non-custodial parent’s house, are included in this category
  • Child care: child support payments also cover nanny services, daycare services, and babysitters.

What is the Average Child Support Payment in North Dakota?

North Dakota courts use the Child Support Guideline to determine child support payments in the state. Except in cases where both parents have residential and decision-making responsibility, the calculations assume that one parent (the obligee) has residential responsibility and is the primary caregiver, while the other parent (the obligor) pays child support. The court considers the parent’s income, the number of children the parents support, and the custody arrangement in determining the child support amount. North Dakota also offers a calculator that interested parties can use to estimate child support payment amounts.

How do I apply for Child Support in North Dakota?

The court may establish a child support order as part of a divorce case. However, unmarried parents and parents who do not have child support orders may file an action with the District Court to establish Parenting Rights and Responsibilities. Interested parties may also apply for child support services through the Child Support Division online, by mail, or contact the Child Support Division to request an application. The Child Support Division’s services include:

  • Paternity establishment
  • Court order establishment
  • Court order enforcement
  • Payment receipt and disbursement
  • Child support review or modification
  • Payment plan
  • Parent location

The Child Support Division charges an annual $35 fee to the obligee for child support services. Limited services are also available, and the services include payment receipt and disbursement, and withholding income enforcement. A monthly $5 fee applies to limited services.

How do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in North Dakota?

According to N. D.C. C. § 14–09–09.32, an obligor may not waive child support. However, eligible parties may request a modification or review of child support orders. Typically, the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent; however, if the custodial parent earns up to three (3) times more than the non-custodial parent, the court may adjust the child support amount. Also, if a parent can prove that deviating from the Child Support Guidelines is in the child’s best interests, and if there is a significant change in the parent’s situation, such as decreased income or increased expenses, the court may review or modify the child support order.

What is Back Child Support in North Dakota?

Back child support, or past-due child support, is the accumulated outstanding amount from inconsistent or unpaid child support. The Child Support Division of the Department of Human Services collects and enforces child support payments in North Dakota. Defaulting parents may be subject to the Child Support Division’s enforcement tools or to the court’s penalties, which could include imprisonment.

How do I Get Back Child Support Paid in North Dakota?

Eligible persons may file a civil action to get child support payment in the District Court in the county where the child lives or where the defaulting parent lives (N. D.C. C. § 14–08–1.02).. The court will enforce the child support payment by any appropriate means. The court may require the defaulting parent to: pay the outstanding amount in installments with a plan or participate in work activities that will enable the parent to pay the outstanding fees.

If the court finds that a parent deliberately refuses the pay child support, the court may find the parent guilty of criminal non-support, which is a Class C felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and fines of up to $5000.

The Child Support Division also enforces child support payments using appropriate tools such as:

  • Federal and state tax returns interception
  • Federal administrative payment interception
  • Credit reporting agencies reports
  • Passport denials
  • License and vehicle registration suspensions
  • Liens
  • Criminal prosecution

The Child Support Division posts lists of parents that the court found in contempt of court for refusing to pay child support; parents who have paid past-due child support obligations may contact the Child Support Division to update the lists.

Is there a North Dakota Statutes of Limitation on Child Support?

In North Dakota, there is no statute of limitations for child support. This means that even after the child becomes an adult, a defaulting parent still owes child support and the obligee may bring action against the defaulting parent for enforcement. All child support debts are owed until the debts are paid.

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