The parents of a child are expected to provide and care for their child, whether or not they are married. Caring for a child is usually too much of a burden to be borne on the income of only one person, hence the need for both parents to be involved in bearing the costs of raising the child. For this purpose, child support regulations exist to create an obligation for parents to take care of their child, thus enhancing the child’s wellbeing and reducing the strain placed on public treasuries through support programs to care for the child.
Child Support Process After Divorce
In North Dakota, Child Support is a Division of the Department of Human Services. Custodial parents who wish to request child support need to fill out an application form. This can be done on the state’s online portal at https://apps.nd.gov/dhs/cs/applynow/do/public/ApplyNow. The portal allows parents to request full service or only noncustodial parent locator services. Parents who have never received aid through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program are charged an annual fee of $35 per child support case. This is deducted once the child support collections for that year exceed $550. Beneficiaries of TANF and other public assistance programs are exempted from this fee and automatically have their details registered for child support.
The information required to fill out the application includes the name, physical description, employment details, physical description, phone numbers, etc. of the noncustodial parent, alongside the name, address, and employment information of the parent applying for support. A section is also provided to input details about the child in the case. The details supplied by the applicant are very important, especially details about the noncustodial parent. This is because the information will be used to attempt to locate and establish contact with the other parent. Locating the non-custodial parent is essential as the child support case cannot progress without serving them a notice. If the custodial parent provides information about properties owned by the noncustodial parent, it may come in handy in case there is a need for enforcement action later on.
Once the other parent has been located and served a notice of child support, the next required step would be to establish the paternity of the child. For parents who were married when the child was born, the mother’s husband is taken as the legal father of the child. In cases of unmarried parents, there would be a need to take steps to establish legal fatherhood. The common method is by filling a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement. This is done when both parents are sure of the father of the child, in which case they can access the form at https://www.childsupport.dhs.nd.gov/sites/www/files/documents/pdfs/acknowledgment-of-paternity.pdf and fill it out. The Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form can be filled at the hospital immediately after the child is born. Alternatively, if there is a dispute with regards to the father of the child, genetic testing will be required. This is done at a Child Support office. Tissue samples are collected by rubbing a swab on the inside of each person’s mouth. The mother, child, and alleged father are all tested. Each person is also photographed in case there is a doubt about who submitted the samples. Tests are carried out for free, and the results are usually received within 2 weeks. The results can be used to legally establish paternity if they come back with a 99% probability of fatherhood. For additional information on establishing paternity, visit https://www.childsupport.dhs.nd.gov/services/establish-paternity.
After establishing paternity, the child support case moves forward to establishing the actual child support order and the financial obligations to be paid.
How Do You Receive Child Support?
Custodial parents in North Dakota have two options for receiving their child support payments. These are:
smiONE Visa Prepaid Card: This is a debit card automatically issued to parents who receive child support and have not registered an account for direct deposits. The card can be used anywhere a Visa card is accepted, to check the account balance, withdraw funds, make purchases, pay for bills, etc. For further information regarding the smiONE Visa card in North Dakota, visit https://www.childsupport.dhs.nd.gov/my-child-support/receive-payments/smionetm-visar-prepaid-card.
Direct Deposit: This is an electronic transfer arrangement. Once child support funds are available, they are automatically transferred to a bank account that the parent has previously registered in their case. Parents who wish to enroll for direct deposit must first fill a Direct Deposit Enrolment and Authorization which can be found at https://www.childsupport.dhs.nd.gov/sites/www/files/documents/pdfs/SFN-161-2020-06.pdf. Additional details about the direct deposit can be looked up at https://www.childsupport.dhs.nd.gov/my-child-support/receive-payments/direct-deposit.
Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support
Child support payments in North Dakota are established using predefined guidelines. These guidelines must be referenced by anyone who is in charge of establishing the child support order. Factors like the income of the parent who is to pay support, the number of children to be supported, other existing child support obligations of the noncustodial parent, etc. are considered in the child support guidelines. Links to the Current Child Support Guidelines of the state can be found at https://www.childsupport.dhs.nd.gov/resources-lawyers/child-support-guidelines/current-child-support-guidelines.
A simple calculator is also provided for parents to get an idea of how much they may be expecting in their child support order. This calculator can be accessed at https://www.childsupport.dhs.nd.gov/sites/www/files/documents/excels/GuidelinesCalculator.xlsm.
Enforcement of Child Support
The North Dakota Child Support may have to step in with enforcement actions in some child support cases. This is usually because the payments are incomplete, delayed, or not settled at all. Some of the enforcement actions taken to ensure compliance with child support obligations include:
- Credit Reporting: Parents with one-month overdue payments are reported to credit agencies and this affects their credit score.
- Passport Denial: Parents who owe more than $2500 on their child support case are refused passport applications and renewals.
- Tax Refund Intercepts: Tax credits can be withheld and repurposed to settle outstanding child support payments.
- License Suspension: The occupational, recreational, or driver’s licenses of the noncustodial parent may be suspended if the parent owes $2000, or two months’ worth of child support, whichever is less.
- Criminal Prosecution: Parents who are refusing to pay child support even when they are able can be prosecuted and may incur jail time.
Other child support enforcement services available in North Dakota can be found at https://www.childsupport.dhs.nd.gov/services/enforcement.