Child Support Division
General Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What methods are used by the Child Support Division to collect child support?
A. The most effective method for collection is through income withholding, in which the appropriate amount is withheld by an employer from the non-custodial parent's income. Some other methods include contempt of court proceedings, intercepting federal and state income tax refunds, and reporting to credit reporting agencies.
In addition, changes were made in the 2003 ND Legislative session and are described as follows:
Interest: Interest has been included in the records of the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) for child support that first became due and unpaid, on North Dakota orders, on or after July 1, 2002. With the new law, the records will also include interest for child support that first became due and unpaid prior to July 1, 2002, but only for periods on or after January 1, 2004. As before, a court may order another individual or entity to calculate interest on any other unpaid child support amounts, and the calculated interest will be included in the records of the SDU.
License Suspension: For some time, courts have had the authority to suspend a variety of licenses (for example, driver's, hunting, professional, and occupational, including business permits) for unpaid child support. Under the new law, the Child Support Enforcement program (CSE) also has the authority to suspend these licenses, as well as vehicle registrations (for example, car, truck, boat, and airplane registrations), for unpaid child support in cases it is enforcing. CSE may suspend these licenses and registrations if the unpaid amount is greater than three times the monthly amount owed for current child support (or if current support is not owed, then three times the monthly amount most recently owed for current support) or $5,000, whichever is less.
Paying on Arrears: Effective January 1, 2005, the amount withheld from your income to pay past-due child support may significantly increase. If you no longer owe current child support but have an outstanding balance, the amount that must be withheld from your income, through an income withholding order, will be the amount you most recently owed for current child support plus 20% of that amount. (The amount that may be withheld is still limited to 50% of your disposable income.)
Example: A parent was ordered to pay $500 per month in current child support. The ongoing monthly support stopped because the child turned 18 and was no longer in high school. Unpaid child support, however, is still owed. The amount to be withheld from the parent's income will be $600: $500 (the amount the parent most recently owed for current child support) plus $100 (20% of $500).
This amount will be withheld from your income even if you were ordered to pay a smaller amount toward unpaid child support. An exception may apply if the child now resides with you under a court order. Also, if a court has ordered you to pay a specific amount toward unpaid child support and that order was entered after you no longer owed current support, that specific amount will be withheld from your income.
The effective date of this change has been delayed so those affected have time to pay the unpaid amount in full or to adjust their personal budgets prior to the increased withholding.
Reporting Lump Sum Payments: Employers who have received an income withholding order which includes unpaid child support are required to report to CSE lump sum payments of $1,000 or more. In addition to reporting the payment, the employer is required to hold one-half of the payment for 30 days. CSE, in cases it is enforcing, may then seize that portion of the lump sum payment and apply it toward the unpaid child support. This will apply even if you are making regular payments.
Lottery Offset: North Dakota will soon have a lottery. If you owe unpaid child support and win $600 or more, the money will be sent to CSE and it will be applied toward the unpaid child support.
Disclosure of Identity: Information about you may be released to the public if CSE doesn't know where you are or if you owe more than $25,000 of unpaid child support. The information released may include name, last-known address, date of birth, occupation, photograph, amount owed, the number and ages of the children, and any other information that would assist in locating you. The release of information may occur in a variety of ways, including through web sites, newspapers, and posters.
National Medical Support Notice: The National Medical Support Notice is federally required. CSE, in cases it is enforcing, may issue the Notice to your employer if you are required to provide health insurance coverage for your child. The Notice will require your employer to enroll your child in your insurance plan, if coverage for your child is available through that employer. Your employer will also be required to withhold any necessary premium costs related to that enrollment.
Other Enforcement Tools: In addition to these new laws, CSE uses many other enforcement tools. Income withholding will continue to be used to collect child support from employers. CSE, in cases it is enforcing, may report those with outstanding balances to consumer credit agencies; intercept federal and state tax refunds as well as inheritances; and place liens on, and force the sale of, property. Applications for passports may be denied. Cases involving unpaid child support may also be referred for state or federal criminal prosecution. The court also has a number of tools that it may use, including finding a parent in contempt of court which may include jail time, license suspension, or an order to complete work activities.