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Navigating the Child Support System in North Dakota

Applying for Child Support in North Dakota

Bringing up a child can be a costly affair, and child support can help ensure that a child’s financial needs are met even if one parent is absent or unable to provide for them. The Child Support Enforcement Program in North Dakota ensures that parents who owe child support pay their dues.

DHCS and CSE Services

The Department of Human Services Child Support Division (DHCS) provides an array of support services, including establishing paternity, locating absent parents, and enforcing child support orders. The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program provides inter-jurisdictional services to help collect child support across state lines.

If you need assistance from the DHCS or CSE, you can apply for their services by filling out an application. You will need to provide the names and addresses of both parents, the child’s birth certificate, and information about the child’s healthcare and education expenditures.

Determining Paternity

Before child support can be ordered, paternity must be established. Paternity can be determined by several means, including genetic testing, court adjudication, voluntary acknowledgment, and presumed paternity.

A presumed father is the man who, by law, is recognized to be the father of the child, such as the child’s biological father. A putative father is a man who claims to be the father but has not been legally recognized as such yet.

The process for establishing paternity varies depending on the circumstances. Genetic testing is the most accurate way to determine paternity.

A genetic sample is obtained from the child and the suspected father, and the results can be used to establish legal paternity. Court adjudication is necessary when there is a dispute about paternity.

In this case, a hearing is held, and evidence is presented to prove or disprove paternity. Voluntary acknowledgment can be done by completing an Acknowledgment of Paternity form, which is signed by both parents.

Once the form is completed and signed, it is filed with the DHCS or CSE. Presumed paternity is established when the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth.

The law assumes that the husband is the father.

Child Support Calculation

Once paternity is established, the next step is calculating child support. North Dakota uses the Percentage of Income Formula, which calculates child support based on the combined income of both parents, the number of children, and the custody arrangement.

The formula calculates the percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income that should be paid as child support. The percentage can vary depending on the number of children involved.

However, if the parents share equal custody, the formula is adjusted to account for the reduced cost of supporting the child. Shared/Equal Custody Cases

If parents share custody equally, the cost of raising the child is divided between both parents.

As a result, the non-custodial parent’s child support obligations are modified. Parents can mutually agree to modify child support payments to reflect the new custody arrangement.

However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the court can order a modification based on what is in the child’s best interests.

Modifying Child Support in North Dakota

The circumstances of each family can change overtime. If this occurs, it may be necessary to modify the existing child support order.

Modifying Child Support Orders

Child support orders can be modified only if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Examples of substantial changes include a considerable increase or decrease in incomes, change in work-related childcare expenses, children attaining the age of 18, or a step-parent’s income.

Conditions for Modification

A substantial increase or decrease in incomes is considered a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if the custodial parent experiences a significant increase or decrease in income, it may affect the amount of child support.

Childcare expenses can also impact the amount of child support. If the cost of childcare has increased dramatically, it may warrant a modification of the current child support order.

When a child reaches the age of 18, the support order may be terminated or modified. If the custodial parent remarries and her new spouse’s income could impact the child’s standard of living, it may warrant a modification of the current child support order.

Petitioning for Modification

To petition for modification of a child support order, you will need to complete a form and file it with the court that issued the original order. It is essential to provide supporting documentation to prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances.

Many local court resources can assist you with petitioning for a modification of a child support order. You can also research the rules of Civil Procedure, NC Rules of Court, Rules of evidence, and Local Court Rules to ensure that you comply with the requirements of the court system.


Obtaining child support helps ensure that children receive the financial support they need, even when one parent is absent or unable to provide for them. While the process can be complicated, understanding the various steps involved can alleviate some of the stress that comes with navigating the system.

From applying for child support services to modifying existing orders, the

DHCS and CSE Services can offer assistance for those in need. Establishing paternity and calculating child support amounts can be complex, but resources are available to assist throughout the process.

Keeping detailed records of any changes that impact the circumstances of the child support also ensures that modifications can be properly petitioned when necessary.

Enforcement of Child Support in North Dakota

Child support payments can be a crucial part of a child’s financial security, but sometimes, one parent may fail to meet their obligations. In North Dakota, the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Support Enforcement Program (CSE) offers services that enforce child support orders and help parents receive the payments their children need.

Lien Registry for Delinquent Payments

One of the tools that DHS CSE has at their disposal is the Child Support Lien Registry. This registry maintains information about past-due child support payments and can place a lien on the parent’s property.

If the parent fails to pay the overdue amount, DHS may seize and sell the property to recover the owed amount.

Enforcement Tools

DHS CSE has several tools at its disposal to enforce child support orders. For example, income withholding is a process in which an employer is required to withhold wages from a parent’s paycheck to pay child support.

Additionally, DHS can report delinquent child support payments to credit bureaus, intercept tax refunds, and revoke state-issued licenses (such as driver’s licenses, professional licenses, etc.) if the parent fails to pay child support. Attorney fee reimbursement is another tool DHS can use.

If a parent is delinquent in their child support payments, DHS can award attorney fees to the other parent that they incur while collecting their unpaid child support.

Contempt of Court Charges for Non-Support

DHS can file a motion for an order to show cause and bring charges of contempt of court against a parent who fails to pay court-ordered child support payments. According to the Deadbeat Punishment Act of 1998, the non-paying parent can be imprisoned for up to six months and fined for contempt of court.

DHS can also impute incomes if the non-paying parent has the ability to work but chooses to remain unemployed.

End of Child Support in North Dakota

Child support is generally understood to be in place until the child reaches the age of majority. However, there are additional considerations worth knowing about in North Dakota.

Termination of Child Support

In the state of North Dakota, child support usually ends when the child reaches the age of majority or reaches 19 years of age if they are attending high school. However, there are some circumstances in which child support may continue after the child’s 19th birthday.

For example, if the parents have a college or university agreement, child support may be extended until the child completes their degree.

Emancipation Laws

Emancipation laws exist to allow a minor to be treated as an adult. In North Dakota, minors may be emancipated if they can prove they are self-sufficient and capable of making decisions on their own behalf.

Minors who are pregnant or have already had a child may also be eligible for emancipation. If a minor is emancipated, they will no longer be eligible for child support payments from either parent.


The enforcement of child support orders is critical in ensuring that children receive the support they need to thrive. Through a range of enforcement tools, such as income withholding, tax refund interception, and revocation of state-issued licenses, DHS CSE can compel parents to pay their overdue child support payments.

Although most child support obligations terminate when a child reaches the age of majority or finishes their degree program in college or university, additional circumstances such as a minor being emancipated or college or university agreements may impact the duration of child support. Child support is a vital component of ensuring a child’s financial security, and North Dakota offers services to enforce child support orders through DHS’s Child Support Enforcement Program.

Paternity must be established before child support amounts can be calculated, and if a change in circumstances occurs, modification must be petitioned. DHS CSE has enforcement tools such as income withholding, tax refund interception, and revocation of licenses, while the Child Support Lien Registry places liens on the property of delinquent parents.

Child support usually terminates when a child reaches the age of majority or completes university or college agreements. Emancipation laws can also affect the duration.

Child support enforcement is a critical endeavor that ultimately serves the best interest of the children.

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