North Dakotans understand that having children carries with it many responsibilities. These responsibilities do not simply end when the couple's marriage ends and they divorce. The transition from a family unit to one in which the parties are living separately with the child residing with one and visiting the other based on a schedule is a difficult one. Making it work can be complicated and part of that is making certain that the best interests of the child are served.
When there is a child support order in North Dakota, many parents will believe that the payments will continue until the child reaches what is known as "majority." However, that is not always the case. The child support guidelines allow for the payments to continue beyond age 18 - when the child has reached majority - if there are certain conditions in place. Even parents who have no negative perception about paying for a child's financial needs will look forward to the day when they are no longer required to do so. It is imperative to know when the payments can be extended beyond the age of majority.
In North Dakota, as in other jurisdictions around the country, there is an obligation on parents to support their children, both emotionally and financially, regardless of whether they are married to one another. This means financial obligations continue even after the couple gets a divorce from one another. There are specific factors that are included in the calculation for child support payments, but the question that might be coming to many parents minds during the summer months is: who pays for summer camp?
A divorce can be full of issues for North Dakota residents. From property division to child custody, many divorces can involve complex and contentious disputes. Child support can be a tricky issue because this involves a financial commitment that could potentially last for years after the divorce is finalized.
North Dakotans who are considering a divorce often want to know if an order directing the payment of child support can be changed or modified. The answer is "sometimes," depending upon individual circumstances. The family law system in North Dakota is predicated, in part, on the understanding that life changes can occur suddenly and drastically. An order for child support can seem reasonable when it was initially signed by the court, but a few years later, the same order might be rendered unreasonable by illness, job loss or other major life changes.
Child support is often considered one of the most important issues in a divorce proceeding. But, many women in North Dakota who never married are raising children by themselves. What about these single mothers who were never married to the child's father? Do they have a right to seek child support from the child's biological father?
North Dakota's proximity to Canada may tempt those owing child support in the state to cross the border in the hopes of avoiding payment. The recent arrest of a United States citizen who had lived in Calgary for 20 years and failed to pay $560,000 in child support may serve as an important object lesson for anyone considering moving to Canada to escape making these payments.
One of the most difficult questions in a divorce in North Dakota is the determination of child support. The legislature has established general rules for determining child support, and the Department of Human Services has published detailed guidelines that specify the type of information that must be submitted by the divorcing parents. New guidelines became effective on January 1, 2018. These requirements are too numerous and too detailed for a blog post, but an overview may be helpful to those wondering about divorce and 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.
Raising a child is an expensive proposition. The cost of food, healthcare, daycare/education and other daily expenses is legally viewed as a shared responsibility between both parents. When a court orders a non-custodial parent to pay child support and they attempt to evade this responsibility, it can not only be a stressful ordeal for the custodial parent but it can also have negative consequences for the children who no longer have the support they need.