In a case involving minor children, a child support order will be ordered by the Court. Normally, the noncustodial parent will be ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent. This amount is determined by the North Dakota Child Support Guidelines. There are a number of factors that are considered in determining the amount of support required, including income. If one party is granted primary residential responsibility, that parent’s income will not be considered, the guidelines will only look at the noncustodial parent’s earnings. If the parties share equal residential responsibility, both parties’ income will be used in the child support calculation. The lower child support obligation (usually the parent with the least income) is subtracted from the higher obligation, and then the remainder is the child support which is actually paid (e.g., if Parent A owes $700 per month and Parent B owes $500 per month, then Parent A actually pays $200 per month in child support and Parent B pays nothing).
What Can Be Done To Modify?
Some are under the misconception that once child support is ordered, it is unchangeable. A child support order can be amended. However, modification is not automatic. There must be a court order requiring the modification. Generally, the Child Support office will review the amount every 18 months (since the order was entered, last reviewed, or amended) when requested by one of the parents receiving Full Services. Note that there are some exceptions to this rule. Parties may request the review by filling out the Request for a Review or sending in a written request to Child Support.
When the review is complete, both parties will receive notice of the results and are given the opportunity to agree with the child support proposal from the State, or to contest the amount proposed and appear for a hearing on the issue. A court’s approval is necessary to effectuate the final order, even if the parties agree on the child support amount.
If parties have taken the action privately and none of the exceptions apply, the parties may request a review before the 18 months have elapsed. There are specific forms the seeking party must file. If it has been over one year since the date the last child support order was entered, a party can request modification without showing a change in circumstances. The child support amount is then calculated under the North Dakota Child Support Guidelines, as discussed above. If modification is sought within one year of the entry of the order, the party seeking modification must show a material change of circumstances.
Child support can be a challenging and frustrating channel to navigate, especially when one party wants to modify the order. It is important to have an experienced family law attorney at your side throughout the process to ensure the right steps are taken.
Please contact the Family Law Team at SW&L at 701-297-2890 or email us via the contact form below.
The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely on the information on this website as legal advice.