Complete Topic List


Getting Child Support

Getting Child Support

If you are on public assistance and have physical custody of the child, you will be required to assign your right to collect child support over to the state and cooperate with county social services, and to cooperate with the child support enforcement unit.

A good cause exception may be granted if cooperation in securing child support is reasonably anticipated to result in :

  1. Physical or emotional harm to the child; or
  2. Physical or emotional harm to the parent or caretaker relative with whom the child is living.

If you are not on public assistance, ask the child support enforcement unit for help or find a private lawyer to represent you.

Parenting time and child support are separate issues. The non-custodial parent is entitled to visitation with the child regardless of whether child support payments are current.


The amount is based on guidelines set by the North Dakota Department of Human Services.


The guidelines address the income of the parent who does not have custody (the non-custodial parent).

First, gross income is considered.  Gross income includes items such as wages, prizes and inheritance.

Deductions allowed from gross income:

  • Federal and state income taxes at standard rates;
  • Federal social security/medicare taxes;
  • The child’s health insurance premiums;
  • The child’s uncovered medical expenses;
  • Required employment union dues;
  • Required employment retirement deductions; and
  • Ongoing special employee expenses.

If the non-custodial parent has a duty to support other children, additional deductions may be allowed.

No Income?

What if the non-custodial parent has no income?  Court use various methods which results in the highest amount for child support purposes.

Methods used include:

  • Gross minimum wage; or
  • Gross wages earned generally in that field; or
  • Greatest average gross earnings over a period of time.

High Cost Region?

Normal living expenses, even in states where the cost of living may be higher, are not considered by the court.

Guideline Exceptions

Can courts order payments not within the guidelines?  Yes, IF facts show a different ability to earn income than what is in the guidelines.

Courts can order higher child support amounts based on, for example:

  • very high income; or
  • many children; or
  • children needing special care due to disabilities; or
  • the non-custodial parent getting rid of property and trying to get out of paying some or all child support.

Courts can order lower child support amounts based on, for example:

  • parenting time; or
  • hardship, such as a tragic event; or
  • special health needs of the non-custodial parent.

Cost for Help

Does it cost anything if the Child Support Enforcement agency helps establish child support?

  • If you have ever been on AFDC or TANF, you cannot be charged a fee for services.
  • If you have not received AFDC or TANF, you may be required to pay a fee.

This brochure provides general legal information, but is not intended to give legal advice or counsel on any specific legal matter.  If you have a question concerning how the contents or subject matter in this brochure may affect a particular legal situation, you should seek counsel from an attorney or professional of your own choosing.

April 2013
Published by Legal Services of North Dakota