Children are entitled to the emotional and financial support of both parents - even after a separation or divorce. When parents shirk their obligation to financially support their children, they can face significant fines and in some cases, jail time.
North Dakota provides parents with many resources to enforce child support orders, whether through the court system or Child Support Enforcement program. This article provides a general overview of how to enforce your child support order in North Dakota. If after reading this article, you have questions about obtaining or enforcing child support orders, contact a local family law attorney for assistance.
A child support obligation does not exist until child support has been established by a judge or by the North Dakota Child Support Enforcement program (CSE). Once child support is established, it becomes enforceable, and the parent required to pay child support (typically the non-custodial parent) must do so as long as the child support order exists or until the child reaches the age of majority and has graduated from high school.
Child support is largely dependent on the parents’ reported incomes. For more information on how to calculate child support, see Child Support Laws in North Dakota.
If you and your child's other parent have separated, you can apply to receive child support through CSE. Begin by filling out the online application. If you have not yet established who the child's father is, you may still apply for child support through CSE, and ask that the court determine paternity. By establishing paternity, you are also establishing your child’s legal right to receive inheritance, Social Security and/or veterans benefits from your child’s father.
North Dakota’s CSE provides parents with the following services:
As soon as a child support order has been established through CSE or through the court, the parent required to pay child support ("non-custodial" or "paying" parent) must obey the support order. If the non-custodial parent fails to pay the full amount of child support, he or she can face contempt of court charges, including significant fines and in some circumstances, jail time.
A custodial parent may file a contempt action to enforce the child support order either on their own or with the help of a private attorney. Private attorneys will file the appropriate paperwork and attend a hearing on your behalf.
Alternatively, you may file the child support enforcement paperwork yourself. The forms needed to file a child support enforcement action, also called an Order to Show Cause, are typically available in hard copy form at your local courthouse. After you have filed the enforcement paperwork and properly served (delivered) it to the other parent, the court will set a hearing on your Order to Show Cause. See an article on What is a Show Cause Hearing for more information. If you have additional questions on what forms to file or how to prepare for your child support enforcement hearing, contact a local family law attorney for advice.
Finally, CSE can assist you in enforcing a child support order, but they will not file paperwork with the court on your behalf. First and foremost, CSE will represent the child or children covered by the child support order (not a parent). CSE has various methods available to it in order to collect past due child support or future child support payments.
Courts and CSE have various methods of enforcing and collecting child support. A non-paying parent may be subject to one or more of the following:
If you have additional questions about how to enforce a child support order in North Dakota, contact an experienced family law attorney for assistance.
For more information on enforcement of child support orders in North Dakota and to read the relevant child support statute, see North Dakota Century Code, Title 14, Chapter 14-08.