FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How long does it take to establish an order?
A. Many things can affect the time it takes to establish an order such as how quickly the parent who owes support provides his or her financial information and if parties agree with Child Support’s calculation. The order will be effective as of the date that the process starts. To avoid a large balance of past-due support, information should be provided in a timely and thorough manner. If questions arise, contact Child Support.
Q. How is the support amount set?
A. The Child Support Guidelines are used to calculate the support amount. The income of the parent who owes support and many other factors are used to determine the support amount.
Q. Can I make payments before the order is established?
A. Payments should be made through the State Disbursement Unit to guarantee you get credit for your payments. Contact Child Support to discuss making payments to the State Disbursement Unit before your order is established.
Q. What if payments were made before the order was established?
A. Be sure to report the payments to Child Support. If both parents agree that the payments were for child support, credit may be given for the payments. It’s better to make the payments to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) so there is record of the payments. Child Support can give you information about how to make payments to the SDU before the order is established.
Q. We can’t agree on Parenting Time (custody/visitation). What should we do?
A. Child support and parenting time are rights of the child and are two separate issues. The Child Support program doesn't provide services relating to parenting time, but a family law attorney should be able to assist.
- State Bar Association of North Dakota – can provide assistance obtaining an attorney.
- ND Supreme Court – has a Self-Help Center which provides resources to parents who wish to represent themselves in North Dakota courts.
Q. Why is an order being established when it wasn’t requested by either parent?
A. If your child is receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or is in foster care and there isn’t an order for support, an order will be established in most cases. After the order is established, funds collected are used to offset TANF and foster care expenses.
Q. When will the support order end?
A. As a general rule, the support order will continue until the child turns 18, but can be extended until the child turns 19 if the child is in high school and living at home.
Q. We share equal custody of our child. How will child support work?
A. A support amount is calculated for both parents when equal custody has been ordered by the court. The amount that one parent owes the other can be offset, so the parent with the higher support amount pays the difference. If the child is receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or is in foster care, both parents must pay the full amount.
Q. I am the parent without full custody of my child. Why is only my income taken into consideration when calculating the support amount?
A. Both parents have a financial responsibility for their child. The parent who has full custody of the child is using his or her money to pay for things like housing, food, electricity, and clothing for the child. The child should experience the same standard of living he or she would have if both parents were living in the same household.
Q. I think I should be entitled to spousal support. Will Child Support establish the spousal support obligation?
A. No. Child Support does not have the authority to establish a spousal support obligation. A private attorney can help establish the spousal support obligation. Child Support will enforce a spousal support obligation when child support and spousal support are owed to the same parent and are part of the same court order. This is sometimes called a 'combo' order. Child support and spousal support payments must be processed by the State Disbursement Unit in combo orders. Law requires child support payments to be processed by the State Disbursement Unit and spousal support is included in the definition of child support. Both child support and spousal support become assigned to the state if certain types of public benefits are paid out.