Everything you need to know about North Dakota child support laws, updated for 2020.
North Dakota child support guidelines are based on the “percentage of income” method. What that means is these guidelines not only dictate your child support order.
But they also establish the percentage of your income that you will contribute towards child support. The formula the state uses, in theory, is supposed to assist parents, courts, or child enforcement officers in the determination of parental obligation. But what if your support orders are unfair? Or what if your former partner refuses to pay?
What are your options?
Find all these answers below.
Apply for child support in North Dakota
In North Dakota, the DHS (Department of Human Services), through the CSE (Child Support Enforcement Program) provide upkeep services including child support application, paternity establishment, support order enforcement, review and adjustment of orders, and inter-jurisdictional services.
‘Inter-jurisdictional services’ means that the agency provides support services across state borders.
There are three ways to apply for services in North Dakota.
One, apply for child support services online here.
Two, download, complete, then return the attached application here.
Three, email [email protected] or call (701) 328-5440 or toll-free (800)231-4255.
What to remember:
- Accurate information and the more of it you provide determines how fast or slow the DHS/ court will take to process your support order.
- The DHS automatically refers; parents who receive TANF, Foster Care, or Medicaid to child support.
- In North Dakota, parents can determine paternity via genetic testing, court adjudication, voluntary acknowledgment, or presumed paternity.
Presumed paternity refers to a situation where a child is born during a marriage or within 300 days after divorce, separation, or termination. Whereas voluntary acknowledgment is when a parent signs a form acknowledging paternity.
How is child support calculated in North Dakota?
The version of the “percentage of income” formula North Dakota uses in the estimation of child support requires the court to consider:
- The number of children requiring support.
- Educational and medical insurance information.
- Gross income(s).
- And all other relevant considerations as per North Dakota child support guidelines.
To aid your estimation, download and complete the attached worksheet relevant to your situation.
North Dakota Schedule Multiple Families
North Dakota Schedule Self Employment
North Dakota Worksheet
You may also use the state calculator here.
What to remember:
- The courts only consider the obligee’s income if it is three times the obligors.
- For shared/equal custody cases, the court calculates support obligation for both parties, then offsets the amount generated in a way that the higher-earning parent pays more.
- The court can compel either or both parents to provide support.
- Priority to the judge or enforcing body is the best interests of the child (ren).
How to modify child support in North Dakota
North Dakota child support guidelines allow parents to modify child support orders through an attorney or on your own. If you take the latter route, it is crucial to realize that the courts expect you to understand all the rules that apply to your cases such as:
- North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure.
- NC rules of court.
- North Dakota Rules of Evidence.
- Any local court rules.
Find all court rules here for further reading.
Whereas if you choose to work with an attorney, he or she will guide you through the process.
The courts cannot change a child support order if the following conditions do not exist:
- A substantial increase or decrease in the paying parent’s income(s).
- The elimination, increase, decrease, or addition of work-related child-care expenses.
- Children attaining the age of 18.
For example, if you lost your job involuntarily, you can petition the court to lower your obligation. To prove and win a successful modification in this type of case, you will need proof of income, expenses, child care expenses, medical insurance coverage, and all relevant information related to your case.
What to remember:
- North Dakota reviews child support cases every 18 months.
- Parents make modifications via a court order (the same way you applied).
- You must show a change in financial circumstances to win modification.
- The courts may consider a step-parent’s income if the child is “received into the stepparent’s family.”
To petition for a support modification, download and complete relevant forms here.
Or find additional resources from the state Child Support Division here. Alternatively, find a clerk of court in your area here.
Overall, grounds for child support modification in North Dakota are not limited to the listed factors. So, consult with a family court attorney in your area for further clarity.
What happens if you do not pay child support in North Dakota?
State law N.D.C.C. 35-34-01.1 requires the state to maintain a child support lien registry. The lien registry is a list containing the names and details of obligors who owe past-due child support.
What is important to remember is. If the CSE lists your name, any real or titled property you own in North Dakota exempting the obligor’s homestead is subject to a lien.
However, child support enforcement does not end there. The CSE or court may also use the following enforcement tools.
- Income withholding: this option requires the paying parent’s employer to garnish child support from wages, salaries, or bonuses.
- Credit bureau reporting: the CSE may forward the delinquent parent’s information to credit bureaus impacting his/her credit score, mortgage, and finances in general.
- Tax refund interception: any state, local or federal tax returns are subject to interception by the CSE.
- Attorney fee reimbursement: the court may order the delinquent parent to pay the custodial parent’s legal fees.
- License revocation: the CSE can, through other state agencies, suspend, or revoke the payor’s drivers, recreational or business license.
- Fines and jail time may also apply depending on the amount owed.
Contempt of court charges for non-support
Contempt of court means that the accused deliberately failed to honor court orders. Because of that, if the court finds you in contempt. You either face jail time, a fine, or both.
To kick off contempt charges, the custodial parent petitions the court, after which the court summons the accused to explain his/her failure. In North Dakota, custodial parents must file a “motion for an order to show cause” to begin contempt proceedings.
Not all cases require the parents to go to court. Meaning you can resolve non-support either through negotiation or mediation. If that fails, the court will decide for you.
What to remember:
- The maximum penalty for criminal non-support in North Dakota is a $5000 fine or five-year imprisonment.
- Delinquent parents outside North Dakota are prosecuted under the Deadbeat Punishment Act of 1998.
- The court imputes parental income if the caregiver is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
- Parents can prevent CSE enforcement actions by honoring their obligation.
When does child support end in North Dakota?
According to the DHS, child support in North Dakota ends when the youngest child reaches the age of majority. That means, in theory, your child support order will terminate on your son’s, or daughter’s 18th birthday.
But in practice, child support may continue until the child turns 19 and is out of high school, or later if the parents agreed and signed to cover college or university fees. Support may also continue indefinitely if the child is mentally or physically disabled.
What to remember:
- When one child turns eighteen, parents should petition the court for reduction.
- Parents can make university or college support agreements out of court.
Emancipation laws in North Dakota
North Dakota child support guidelines do not contain a provision for the emancipation of minors. That means you cannot move out at 16 in the state.
Overall, North Dakota child support guidelines are more complex than they appear to be.
So, if you decide to represent yourself during modification or order establishment, read and understand as much as you can or consult with a family court attorney in your area. Remember, the DHS will not provide any legal assistance or help you complete any relevant form.
More North Dakota Laws