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What happens if I don't pay child support?

Failure to pay child support in North Dakota will result in being held in contempt of court. Consequences for this include jail time, fines, license suspension and a court order to engage in work activities. Those who willingly fail to pay child support in North Dakota may be prosecuted for criminal nonpayment and receive maximum penalties of five years' imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

North Dakota is one of several states that publish a list of obligors found in contempt of court. The list contains the obligor's name, city and state in which they reside and the amount of past-due child support that they owe. There is also a separate list of obligors found guilty of criminal nonpayment; both lists are available on the North Dakota Department of Human Services website.

Federal child support laws also apply to obligors. Under the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, district and state attorneys may collect delinquent payments on behalf of custodial parents. A delinquent, non-custodial parent may have their wages garnished, liens put against their property and their bank accounts frozen. Additionally, they may be reported to credit bureaus, have their driver's license suspended, held in contempt or ordered to serve jail time.

Obligors who willfully fail to pay child support and live in a different state than the child may be prosecuted under the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998. They may receive a fine or a term of imprisonment of up to two years or both. A non-custodial parent who is not willfully withholding payment of child support but who is simply unable to afford payments may request a child support modification to avoid a judgment of delinquency. A future post will discuss the requirements and process of requesting a modification of child support.

Source: North Dakota Department of Human Services, "Child Support Division," accessed December 1, 2017

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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