CHAPTER PARENT AND CHILD

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CHAPTER 14-09

PARENT AND CHILD 14-09-00.1. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

1. "Decisionmaking responsibility" means the responsibility to make decisions concerning the child. The term may refer to decisions on all issues or on specified issues, but not child support issues.

2. "Parental rights and responsibilities" means all rights and responsibilities a parent has concerning the parent's child.

3. "Parenting plan" means a written plan describing each parent's rights and responsibilities.

4. "Parenting schedule" means the schedule of when the child is in the care of each parent.

5. "Parenting time" means the time when the child is to be in the care of a parent.

6. "Primary residential responsibility" means a parent with more than fifty percent of the residential responsibility.

7. "Residential responsibility" means a parent's responsibility to provide a home for the child.

14-09-01. Legitimacy of children born in wedlock. Repealed by S.L. 2005, ch. 135, § 11.

14-09-02. Children born after dissolution of marriage or before wedlock - Legitimacy. Repealed by S.L. 2005, ch. 135, § 11.

14-09-03. Who may dispute presumption of legitimacy. Repealed by S.L. 2005, ch. 135, § 11.

14-09-04. Custody of legitimate child. Repealed by S.L. 2009, ch. 149, § 12. 14-09-05. Custody of illegitimate child. Repealed by S.L. 2009, ch. 149, § 12.

14-09-05.1. Grandparental rights of visitation to unmarried minor child - Mediation or arbitration.

1. The grandparents and great-grandparents of an unmarried minor child may be granted reasonable visitation rights to the child by the district court upon a finding that visitation would be in the best interests of the child and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship.

2. The court shall consider the amount of personal contact that has occurred between the grandparents or great-grandparents and the child and the child's parents.

3. This section does not apply to agency adoptions or when the child has been adopted by a person other than a stepparent or grandparent. Any visitation rights granted under this section before the adoption of the child may be terminated upon the adoption if termination of the rights is in the best interest of the child.

4. An application for visitation rights under this section may be considered by the district court in conjunction with a divorce proceeding involving the parent of the minor child. If any district court of this state retains jurisdiction over the residential placement of the minor child or children by virtue of any prior proceedings, the rights conferred by this section may be enforced by the grandparents or the great-grandparents through motion under the prior proceeding. If no district court otherwise has jurisdiction, a proceeding to enforce grandparental rights may be brought against the parent having

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primary residential responsibility as a civil action and venued in the county of residence of the minor child.

5. The district court may require mediation of the matter under chapter 14-09.1. If mediation fails and if the mediator agrees, the court may order the dispute arbitrated by the person who attempted mediation. Joinder of grandparents or of great-grandparents awarded visitation rights under this section must occur in any proceeding to terminate parental rights.

14-09-06. Priority of custody of father and mother. Repealed by S.L. 2009, ch. 149, § 12.

14-09-06.1. Awarding custody - Best interests and welfare of child. Repealed by S.L. 2009, ch. 149, § 12.

14-09-06.2. Best interests and welfare of child - Court consideration - Factors.

1. For the purpose of parental rights and responsibilities, the best interests and welfare of the child is determined by the court's consideration and evaluation of all factors affecting the best interests and welfare of the child. These factors include all of the following when applicable:

a. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and child and the ability of each parent to provide the child with nurture, love, affection, and guidance.

b. The ability of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and a safe environment.

c. The child's developmental needs and the ability of each parent to meet those needs, both in the present and in the future.

d. The sufficiency and stability of each parent's home environment, the impact of extended family, the length of time the child has lived in each parent's home, and the desirability of maintaining continuity in the child's home and community.

e. The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.

f. The moral fitness of the parents, as that fitness impacts the child.

g. The mental and physical health of the parents, as that health impacts the child. h. The home, school, and community records of the child and the potential effect of

any change.

i. If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a child is of sufficient maturity to make a sound judgment, the court may give substantial weight to the preference of the mature child. The court also shall give due consideration to other factors that may have affected the child's preference, including whether the child's preference was based on undesirable or improper influences.

j. Evidence of domestic violence. In determining parental rights and responsibilities, the court shall consider evidence of domestic violence. If the court finds credible evidence that domestic violence has occurred, and there exists one incident of domestic violence which resulted in serious bodily injury or involved the use of a dangerous weapon or there exists a pattern of domestic violence within a reasonable time proximate to the proceeding, this combination creates a rebuttable presumption that a parent who has perpetrated domestic violence may not be awarded residential responsibility for the child. This presumption may be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of the child require that parent have residential responsibility. The court shall cite specific findings of fact to show that the residential responsibility best protects the child and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence. If necessary to protect the welfare of the child, residential responsibility for a child may be awarded to a suitable third person, provided that the person would not allow access to a violent parent except as ordered by the

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court. If the court awards residential responsibility to a third person, the court shall give priority to the child's nearest suitable adult relative. The fact that the abused parent suffers from the effects of the abuse may not be grounds for denying that parent residential responsibility. As used in this subdivision, "domestic violence" means domestic violence as defined in section 14-07.1-01. A court may consider, but is not bound by, a finding of domestic violence in another proceeding under chapter 14-07.1.

k. The interaction and interrelationship, or the potential for interaction and interrelationship, of the child with any person who resides in, is present, or frequents the household of a parent and who may significantly affect the child's best interests. The court shall consider that person's history of inflicting, or tendency to inflict, physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, on other persons.

l. The making of false allegations not made in good faith, by one parent against the other, of harm to a child as defined in section 50-25.1-02.

m. Any other factors considered by the court to be relevant to a particular parental rights and responsibilities dispute.

2. In a proceeding for parental rights and responsibilities of a child of a servicemember, a court may not consider a parent's past deployment or possible future deployment in itself in determining the best interests of the child but may consider any significant impact on the best interests of the child of the parent's past or possible future deployment.

3. In any proceeding under this chapter, the court, at any stage of the proceedings after final judgment, may make orders about what security is to be given for the care, custody, and support of the unmarried minor children of the marriage as from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case is equitable.

14-09-06.3. Custody investigations and reports - Costs.

1. In contested proceedings dealing with parental rights and responsibilities the court, upon the request of either party, or, upon its own motion, may order an investigation and report concerning parenting rights and responsibilities regarding the child. The court shall designate a person or agency responsible for making the investigation and report, which designees may include the county social service board, public health officer, school officials, and any other public agency or private practitioner it deems qualified to make the investigation.

2. The investigator may consult any person who may have information about the child and any potential arrangements for parenting rights and responsibilities, and upon order of the court may refer the child to any professional personnel for diagnosis. 3. The court shall mail the investigator's report to counsel and to any party not

represented by counsel at least thirty days before the hearing. The investigator shall make available to any such counsel or party the complete file of data and reports underlying the investigator's report and the names and addresses of all persons whom the investigator has consulted. A party may call the investigator and any person whom the investigator has consulted for cross-examination at the hearing. A party may not waive the party's right of cross-examination before the hearing.

4. The court shall enter an order for the costs of any such investigation against either or both parties, except that if the parties are indigent the expenses must be borne by the county where the child resided at the time the action was commenced or if a modification of parental rights and responsibilities, at the time the motion to modify is served.

14-09-06.4. Appointment of guardian ad litem or investigator for child in proceedings involving parental rights and responsibilities - Immunity.

In any action for an annulment, divorce, legal separation, or other action affecting marriage, when either party has reason for special concern as to the future of the minor child, and in any action when the parenting rights and responsibilities concerning the child is contested, either

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party to the action may petition the court for the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the child concerning parenting rights and responsibilities. The court may appoint a guardian ad litem or investigator on its own motion. If appointed, a guardian ad litem shall serve as an advocate of the child's best interests. If appointed, the investigator shall provide those services as prescribed by the supreme court. The court may direct either or both parties to pay the guardian ad litem or investigator fee established by the court. If neither party is able to pay the fee, the court may direct the fee to be paid, in whole or in part, by the county where the child resided at the time the action was commenced. The court may direct either or both parties to reimburse the county, in whole or in part, for such payment. Any guardian ad litem or investigator appointed under this section who acts in good faith in making a report to the court is immune from any civil liability resulting from the report. For the purpose of determining good faith, the good faith of the guardian ad litem or investigator is a disputable presumption.

14-09-06.5. Allegation of harm to child - Effect.

If the court finds that an allegation of harm to a child by one parent against the other is false and not made in good faith, the court shall order the parent making the false allegation to pay court costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the other parent in responding to the allegation.

14-09-06.6. Limitations on postjudgment modifications of primary residential responsibility.

1. Unless agreed to in writing by the parties, or if included in the parenting plan, no motion for an order to modify primary residential responsibility may be made earlier than two years after the date of entry of an order establishing primary residential responsibility, except in accordance with subsection 3.

2. Unless agreed to in writing by the parties, or if included in the parenting plan, if a motion for modification has been disposed of upon its merits, no subsequent motion may be filed within two years of disposition of the prior motion, except in accordance with subsection 5.

3. The time limitation in subsections 1 and 2 does not apply if the court finds: a. The persistent and willful denial or interference with parenting time;

b. The child's present environment may endanger the child's physical or emotional health or impair the child's emotional development; or

c. The primary residential responsibility for the child has changed to the other parent for longer than six months.

4. A party seeking modification of an order concerning primary residential responsibility shall serve and file moving papers and supporting affidavits and shall give notice to the other party to the proceeding who may serve and file a response and opposing affidavits. The court shall consider the motion on briefs and without oral argument or evidentiary hearing and shall deny the motion unless the court finds the moving party has established a prima facie case justifying a modification. The court shall set a date for an evidentiary hearing only if a prima facie case is established.

5. The court may not modify the primary residential responsibility within the two-year period following the date of entry of an order establishing primary residential responsibility unless the court finds the modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child and:

a. The persistent and willful denial or interference with parenting time;

b. The child's present environment may endanger the child's physical or emotional health or impair the child's emotional development; or

c. The residential responsibility for the child has changed to the other parent for longer than six months.

6. The court may modify the primary residential responsibility after the two-year period following the date of entry of an order establishing primary residential responsibility if the court finds:

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a. On the basis of facts that have arisen since the prior order or which were unknown to the court at the time of the prior order, a material change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or the parties; and

b. The modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child.

7. The court may modify a prior order concerning primary residential responsibility at any time if the court finds a stipulated agreement by the parties to modify the order is in the best interests of the child.

8. Upon a motion to modify primary residential responsibility under this section, the burden of proof is on the moving party.

14-09-07. Residence of child.

1. A parent with primary residential responsibility for a child may not change the primary residence of the child to another state except upon order of the court or with the consent of the other parent, if the other parent has been given parenting time by the decree.

2. A parent with equal residential responsibility for a child may not change the residence of the child to another state except with consent of the other parent or order of the court allowing the move and awarding that parent primary residential responsibility. 3. A court order is not required if the other parent:

a. Has not exercised parenting time for a period of one year; or

b. Has moved to another state and is more than fifty miles [80.47 kilometers] from the residence of the parent with primary residential responsibility.

14-09-08. Mutual duty to support children.

Parents shall give their children support and education suitable to the child's circumstances. The court may compel either or both of the parents to provide for the support of their children.

14-09-08.1. Support payments - Payment to state disbursement unit - Transfer of proceedings for enforcement of decree - Procedures upon failure to pay.

1. In any action in which a court orders that payments for child support be made, the court shall provide in its order that the payments be paid to the state disbursement unit for remittance to the obligee.

2. a. Each party subject to the order shall immediately inform the state disbursement unit of the party's:

(1) Social security number;

(2) Residential and mailing addresses and any change of address; (3) Telephone number;

(4) Motor vehicle operator's license number;

(5) Employer's name, address, and telephone number; and

(6) Change of any other condition which may affect the proper administration of this chapter.

b. Each order for payment of child support must notify each party of the requirements in subdivision a and require the party to provide the information within ten days from the date of the order or ten days after any change in the information.

c. In any subsequent child support enforcement action between the parties, upon sufficient showing that diligent effort has been made to ascertain the location of a party, the court shall deem due process requirements for notice and service to have been met, with respect to the noticed party, by delivery of written notice to the most recent residential or employer address provided by the noticed party pursuant to this subsection.

d. The requirements of this subsection continue in effect until all child support obligations have been satisfied with respect to each child subject to the order. 3. Whenever there is failure to make the payments as required, the clerk of court may,

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arrears by first-class mail, with affidavit of service, to the person required to make the payments, or request a district judge of the judicial district to issue a citation for contempt of court against the person who has failed to make the payments. The citation may be served on that person by first-class mail with affidavit of service to the person's last-known address.

4. The court of its own motion or on motion of the child support agency or the state's attorney of the county of venue, the county of the recipient's residence, or the county of the obligor's residence may cause a certified copy of any support order in the action to be transcribed and filed with the clerk of the district court of any county in this state in which the obligee or the obligor may reside from time to time. Thereafter, this section applies as if the support order were issued by the district court of the county to which the support order is transcribed. No fee may be charged for transcribing or filing a certified copy of any support order under this section.

14-09-08.2. Support for children after majority - Retroactive application.

1. A judgment or order requiring the payment of child support until the child attains majority continues as to the child until the end of the month during which the child is graduated from high school or attains the age of nineteen years, whichever occurs first, if:

a. The child is enrolled and attending high school and is eighteen years of age prior to the date the child is expected to be graduated; and

b. The child resides with the person to whom the duty of support is owed.

2. A judgment or order may require payment of child support after majority under substantially the circumstances described in subsection 1.

3. The person to whom the duty of support is owed under either subsection 1 or 2 may file an affidavit with the district court stating that the requirements of subsection 1 are met, the school in which the child is enrolled, and the anticipated date of the child's graduation. Upon filing of the affidavit, the child support resumes pursuant to subsection 1 or pursuant to the terms of a judgment or order described in subsection 2. A fee may not be charged for filing such an affidavit.

4. The clerk of court shall serve the affidavit by first-class mail upon the person owing the duty of support. If at any time thereafter the person owing the duty of support files a motion with the court, supported by that person's affidavit that the child is no longer enrolled in or attending high school, the court shall determine if the child is enrolled in and attending high school and shall enter an order accordingly.

5. This section applies to child support orders concerning children described in subsection 1 or 2, regardless of the date of entry of the order.

6. This section does not preclude the entry of an order for child support which continues after the child reaches age eighteen, if the parties agree, or if the court determines the support to be appropriate.

7. For purposes of this section:

a. A child is treated as being in school during summer vacation if the child was enrolled in and attending school and did not graduate from high school at the end of the school period immediately preceding the summer vacation; and

b. A child who is currently enrolled in school is not considered to have graduated, even if all required coursework and examinations have been completed, until the ceremony is held by the school to commemorate the child's graduation.

14-09-08.3. Duration of child support obligations.

Unless dates for the commencement or termination of a child support obligation are specified by the court's order, a judgment or order requiring the payment of child support is effective as to the child in the month in which the order is signed and continues until the end of the month in which the support obligation terminates.

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14-09-08.4. Periodic review of child support orders.

1. Each child support order being enforced by the child support agency must be reviewed by the child support agency no less frequently than thirty-six months after the establishment of the order or the most recent amendment or review of the order by the court or child support agency unless:

a. In the case of an order with respect to which there is in effect an assignment under chapter 50-09, the child support agency has determined that a review is not in the best interests of the child and neither the obligor nor the obligee has requested review;

b. In the case of any other order neither the obligor nor the obligee has requested review; or

c. In the case of a review requested by the obligor, the obligor failed to provide information required under subsection 1 of section 14-09-08.6 with the request for review.

2. Each child support order, in which there is in effect an assignment under chapter 50-09 or with respect to which either the obligor or the obligee has requested review, must be reviewed by the child support agency if:

a. More than twelve months have passed since the establishment of the order or the most recent amendment or review of that order by the court or child support agency, whichever is later; and

b. The order provides for no child support and was based on a finding that the obligor has no ability to pay child support.

3. If, upon review, the child support agency determines that the order provides for child support payments in an amount that is inconsistent with the amount that would be required by the child support guidelines established under subsection 1 of section 14-09-09.7, the child support agency may seek an amendment of the order. If the order provides for child support payments in an amount less than eighty-five percent or more than one hundred fifteen percent of the amount that would be required by those guidelines, the child support agency shall seek an amendment of the order.

4. If a child support order sought to be amended was entered at least one year before the filing of a motion or petition for amendment, the court shall order the amendment of the child support order to conform the amount of child support payment to that required under the child support guidelines, whether or not the motion or petition for amendment arises out of a periodic review of a child support order, and whether or not a material change of circumstances has taken place, unless the presumption that the correct amount of child support would result from the application of the child support guidelines is rebutted. If a motion or petition for amendment is filed within one year of the entry of the order sought to be amended, the party seeking amendment must also show a material change of circumstances.

5. A determination that a child who is the subject of a child support order is eligible for benefits furnished under subsection 17 or 19 of section 50-06-05.1 or chapter 50-09 or 50-24.1, or any substantially similar program operated by any state or tribal government, constitutes a material change of circumstances. The availability of health insurance at reasonable cost to a child who is the subject of a child support order constitutes a material change of circumstances. The need to provide for a child's health care needs, through health insurance or other means, constitutes a material change of circumstances.

14-09-08.5. Notice of review of child support orders.

1. The child support agency shall provide written notice, including notice through electronic means, to the obligee and the obligor that a review under section 14-09-08.4 is commencing.

2. Unless sufficient information was previously provided by the obligor with a request for review, the notice to the obligor must inform the obligor of the duty to furnish the information required by section 14-09-08.6 and that a failure to furnish the required information may result in the entry of an order compelling the furnishing of the

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information. The notice must be accompanied by an income report form, together with instructions for the accurate completion of the income report form.

14-09-08.6. Obligor's duties upon review - Failure to provide information.

Unless sufficient information was previously provided by the obligor with a request for review, the obligor shall provide information to the child support agency concerning the obligor's income, which is sufficient to accomplish the review, by the date required by the child support agency. The information must be furnished by providing:

1. An income report, in the form and manner required by the child support agency, accurately completed and attested to by the obligor;

2. Earnings statements secured from the obligor's current income payer if the obligor changed employment after the end of the latest income tax year for which the obligor filed a return; and

3. A verified copy of the latest income tax return, filed with the internal revenue service or any state official administering a state income tax, which accurately reports the obligor's income for a fiscal year ending no more than seventeen months prior to the date of the review.

14-09-08.7. Notice of review determination.

1. Following review, the child support agency shall promptly provide notice of its review determination.

2. If the child support agency has made a determination not to seek an amendment to the amount of child support, the notice must inform the obligor and the obligee of the right of each to challenge that determination by seeking an amendment to the amount of child support, from the court, at any time before the termination of the support order. 3. If the child support agency has made a determination to seek an amendment to the

amount of child support, the notice must inform the obligor and the obligee of the opportunity of each to consent to the proposed amendment and the right of each to challenge that determination by opposing that amendment before the court.

14-09-08.8. Motion for amendment of child support order - How made - Presumption when obligor's income unknown.

Repealed by S.L. 2015, ch. 126, § 14.

14-09-08.9. Request for review - Notice of right to request review.

An obligor or an obligee may request review under section 14-09-08.4, by applying to the child support agency for child support services, and indicating, in the manner there provided, a desire to have a child support order reviewed. Each judgment or order issued by a court in this state which includes an order for child support must include a statement advising of the right to request a review under this section. If a party to a child support matter is receiving services from the child support agency and an order for current child support has issued out of that matter, the child support agency shall provide notice of the right to request a review or further review of that child support order, to the obligor and obligee, not more than three years after the most recent child support order, review of that child support order, or notice of right to request a review of that child support order.

14-09-08.10. (Contingent effective date - See note) Order.

Each order entered under this code for the support of a minor child or the support of a child after majority under section 14-09-08.2 must include a provision for health insurance coverage for that child.

1. Except as provided in subsection 2, the order must require the obligor to provide satisfactory health insurance coverage whenever that coverage is available at reasonable cost or becomes available at reasonable cost.

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2. If the obligee is an individual with physical custody of the child, the obligee must be required to provide satisfactory health insurance whenever that coverage is available at no or nominal cost.

(Contingent effective date - See note) Order. Each order entered under this code for the support of a minor child or the support of a child after majority under section 14-09-08.2 must include a provision for the child's health insurance coverage or other medical support. Responsibility for the child's health insurance coverage or other medical support must be established according to rules adopted by the child support agency. To the extent permitted by federal law and rules promulgated by the secretary of the United States department of health and human services, the rules adopted under this section must include a reasonable cost standard which considers the income of the obligated parent and the cost of health insurance coverage.

14-09-08.11. (Contingent effective date - See note) Eligible child - Employer to permit enrollment - Employer duties and liabilities - Obligor contest.

1. When an obligor is required to cover a child as a beneficiary under section 14-09-08.10, the child is eligible for health insurance coverage as a dependent of the obligor. If health insurance coverage required under section 14-09-08.10 is available through an employer, the employer must:

a. Permit the obligor to enroll under family coverage any child who is otherwise eligible for coverage without regard to any open enrollment restrictions;

b. If the obligor is enrolled but fails to make application to obtain coverage for the child, enroll the child under family coverage upon application by the obligee; c. Upon receipt of the national medical support notice issued under section

14-09-08.20:

(1) Comply with the provisions of the national medical support notice; and

(2) Transfer the national medical support notice to the insurer that provides any such health insurance coverage for which the child is eligible, within twenty business days after the date of the national medical support notice;

d. Not disenroll or eliminate coverage for any child unless the employer has eliminated family health coverage for all of its employees or the employer is provided satisfactory written evidence that:

(1) The order issued under section 14-09-08.10 is no longer in effect; or

(2) The child is or will be enrolled in comparable coverage that will take effect no later than the effective date of disenrollment;

e. Withhold from the obligor's compensation the obligor's share, if any, of premiums for health insurance coverage and pay this amount to the insurer;

f. If the amount required to be withheld under subdivision e, either alone or when added to the total of any withholding required by an order issued under section 14-09-09.15, exceeds fifty percent of the obligor's disposable income, withhold fifty percent of the obligor's disposable income;

g. In the case of an obligor contest under subsection 2, initiate and continue withholding until the employer receives notice that the contest is resolved; and h. Promptly notify the child support agency, in the same manner as required under

subsection 9 of section 14-09-09.16, whenever the obligor's employment is terminated.

2. The obligor may contest the withholding provided for in subdivision e of subsection 1 by filing a request for a hearing within ten days of the date of the national medical support notice issued under section 14-09-08.20. If the obligor contests that withholding, the court shall:

a. Hold a hearing within ten working days after the date of the request; and b. Confirm the withholding in the absence of a finding:

(1) Of a mistake of fact; or

(2) That the obligee is required to provide health insurance coverage pursuant to section 14-09-08.10.

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3. The withholding provided in subdivision e of subsection 1 has priority over any other legal process against the same income except that withholding required by an order issued under section 14-09-09.15 must be satisfied before any payment is made to the insurer. If the amount remaining is insufficient to pay the obligor's share of premiums for health insurance coverage, the obligor may authorize additional withholding to pay the obligor's share. If the obligor does not authorize additional withholding, and the health insurance coverage will lapse as a result, the employer must promptly inform the child support agency of the insufficiency.

4. An employer receiving a national medical support notice under this section is subject to the same duties and liabilities as an income payer under section 14-09-09.3 unless the context indicates otherwise.

5. For purposes of this section:

a. "Employer" means an entity or individual who would be determined to be an employer under section 3401(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended [26 U.S.C. 3401(d)], and includes any governmental entity and any labor organization; and

b. "Insurer" has the meaning provided in section 26.1-36.5-01.

(Contingent effective date - See note) Eligible child - Employer to permit enrollment - Employer duties and liabilities - Obligor contest.

1. When an obligor is required to cover a child as a beneficiary under section 14-09-08.10, the child is eligible for health insurance coverage as a dependent of the obligor. If health insurance coverage required under section 14-09-08.10 is available through an employer, the employer must:

a. Permit the obligor to enroll under family coverage any child who is otherwise eligible for coverage without regard to any open enrollment restrictions;

b. If the obligor is enrolled but fails to make application to obtain coverage for the child, enroll the child under family coverage upon application by the obligee; c. Upon receipt of the national medical support notice issued under section

14-09-08.20:

(1) Comply with the provisions of the national medical support notice; and

(2) Transfer the national medical support notice to the insurer that provides any such health insurance coverage for which the child is eligible, within twenty business days after the date of the national medical support notice;

d. Not disenroll or eliminate coverage for any child unless the employer has eliminated family health coverage for all of its employees or the employer is provided satisfactory written evidence that:

(1) The order issued under section 14-09-08.10 is no longer in effect; or

(2) The child is or will be enrolled in comparable coverage that will take effect no later than the effective date of disenrollment;

e. Withhold from the obligor's compensation the obligor's share, if any, of premiums for health insurance coverage and pay this amount to the insurer;

f. If the amount required to be withheld under subdivision e, either alone or when added to the total of any withholding required by an order issued under section 14-09-09.15, exceeds fifty percent of the obligor's disposable income, withhold fifty percent of the obligor's disposable income;

g. In the case of an obligor contest under subsection 2, initiate and continue withholding until the employer receives notice that the contest is resolved; and h. Promptly notify the child support agency, in the same manner as required under

subsection 9 of section 14-09-09.16, whenever the obligor's employment is terminated.

2. The obligor may contest the withholding provided for in subdivision e of subsection 1 by filing a request for a hearing within ten days of the date of the national medical support notice issued under section 14-09-08.20. If the obligor contests that withholding, the court shall:

a. Hold a hearing within ten working days after the date of the request; and b. Confirm the withholding in the absence of a finding:

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(1) Of a mistake of fact; or

(2) That the obligee is required to provide health insurance coverage pursuant to section 14-09-08.10.

3. Unless otherwise provided by the child support agency in compliance with rules promulgated by the secretary of the United States department of health and human services, the withholding provided in subdivision e of subsection 1 has priority over any other legal process against the same income, except that withholding required by an order issued under section 14-09-09.15 must be satisfied before any payment is made to the insurer. If the amount remaining is insufficient to pay the obligor's share of premiums for health insurance coverage, the obligor may authorize additional withholding to pay the obligor's share. If the obligor does not authorize additional withholding, and the health insurance coverage will lapse as a result, the employer must promptly inform the child support agency of the insufficiency.

4. An employer receiving a national medical support notice under this section is subject to the same duties and liabilities as an income payer under section 14-09-09.3 unless the context indicates otherwise.

5. For purposes of this section:

a. "Employer" means an entity or individual who would be determined to be an employer under section 3401(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended [26 U.S.C. 3401(d)], and includes any governmental entity and any labor organization; and

b. "Insurer" has the meaning provided in section 26.1-36.5-01. 14-09-08.12. Authorization to insurer.

The signature of the custodial parent of the insured dependent, the obligee, or the obligee's assignee is a valid authorization to the insurer for purposes of processing an insurance reimbursement payment to the provider of the medical services, for the release of information concerning the insured dependent or coverage available to the insured dependent, and otherwise for purposes of verifying coverage and payment for the insured dependent, in the same manner and to the same extent as the signature of the insured.

14-09-08.13. Application for service.

The child support agency shall take the appropriate steps to implement, modify, and enforce an order for dependent health insurance or other medical support whenever the children receive benefits through temporary assistance for needy families or foster care under chapter 50-09 or medical assistance under chapter 50-24.1, or whenever application is made and accepted for services provided by the child support agency.

14-09-08.14. Child support agency to establish criteria.

The child support agency shall establish criteria to identify cases involving children who received benefits through temporary assistance for needy families or foster care under chapter 50-09 or medical assistance under chapter 50-24.1, or when an application to the child support agency has been completed by an obligee and when there is a high potential for obtaining medical support based on:

1. Evidence that health insurance may be available to the obligor at reasonable cost; and 2. Facts that are sufficient to warrant modification of the existing court order to include

health insurance coverage for a dependent child.

14-09-08.15. (Contingent repeal - See note) Reasonable cost of health insurance. For purposes of this chapter, health insurance is considered reasonable in cost if it is available to the obligor on a group basis or through an employer or union, regardless of service delivery mechanism, or as otherwise defined by the child support agency in compliance with rules promulgated by the secretary of the United States department of health and human services.

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(Contingent effective date - See note) Reasonable cost of health insurance. For purposes of this chapter, health insurance is considered reasonable in cost if it is available to the obligor on a group basis or through an employer or union, regardless of service delivery mechanism, or as otherwise defined by the child support agency in compliance with rules promulgated by the secretary of the United States department of health and human services. The definition of reasonable cost established by the child support agency under this section must consider the scope of covered services, the cost of coverage, and the amount of any copayments or deductibles.

14-09-08.16. Requests for information from income payer.

1. The child support agency may mail a request for information to the income payer in any matter in which it secures reliable information that the income payer may be indebted to an obligor. The request must identify the obligor by name, and, if known, address and social security number.

2. Within ten days after receipt of a request for information issued under subsection 1, an income payer shall provide the requester with a written statement informing the requester whether or not the income payer is, or within the one hundred eighty days immediately preceding receipt of the request has been, an income payer with respect to that obligor. If the income payer is, or within the previous one hundred eighty days has been, an income payer with respect to that obligor, the income payer shall furnish information to the requester, including:

a. The amount of any income currently paid to the obligor, calculated on a monthly basis;

b. The total amount of income paid to the obligor in the twelve months preceding the month in which the request is received;

c. Information regarding any health insurance that may be made available to the obligor's children through the income payer;

d. The social security number under which payment of any income by the income payer to the obligor is reported;

e. The obligor's address; and

f. If the income payer is no longer an income payer with respect to that obligor, the date of last payment and any forwarding address.

3. Any income payer failing to comply with any requirements of this section may be punished for contempt of court. The court shall first afford such income payer a reasonable opportunity to purge itself of contempt.

4. A proceeding against an income payer under this section may be commenced upon motion by the child support agency and must be commenced within ninety days after the income payer's act or failure to act upon which such proceeding is based.

14-09-08.17. Delinquent obligor may not renounce claims.

An obligor whose child support obligation is delinquent may not renounce, waive, assign, transfer, or disclaim any interest that obligor might otherwise claim in a decedent's estate, a trust, or a similar device, to the extent necessary to satisfy the delinquency. Any attempt to renounce, waive, assign, transfer, or disclaim such an interest is void if attempted after notice of the delinquency is furnished to the person administering the estate, trust, or similar device, and is otherwise voidable.

14-09-08.18. Health insurance reimbursements received by but not owed to obligor to be paid over - Finding of contempt - Treatment as delinquent child support.

1. A payment for services rendered by a medical provider to an obligor's dependent which is directed to the obligor in the form of reimbursements from health insurance must be paid to the medical provider, custodial parent, or child support agency when the reimbursement is not owed to the obligor.

2. Any child support order that requires an obligor to provide health insurance is deemed to include the requirements of this section. An obligor retaining insurance

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reimbursement not owed to the obligor may be found in contempt of a child support order that requires the obligor to provide health insurance.

3. Any insurance reimbursement received by the obligor, but not owed to the obligor, may be treated as delinquent child support thirty days after receipt by the obligor if not sooner paid to the medical provider, custodial parent, or child support agency, as their interests may appear, and is subject to all remedies available under this code for the collection of delinquent child support.

14-09-08.19. Child support order - Required interest statement.

Each judgment or order requiring the payment of child support must include a statement that the child support obligation will accrue interest if not timely paid. Accrual of interest and validity of the order are not affected by a failure to include the statement required by this section.

14-09-08.20. National medical support notice - Child support agency duties.

1. When an obligor is required to provide health insurance coverage for a child as a beneficiary under section 14-09-08.10, the order is being enforced under title IV-D, and the obligor's employer has been identified, the child support agency shall use the national medical support notice, when appropriate, to enforce the provision of health insurance coverage for the child. The child support agency shall:

a. Serve the national medical support notice on the employer by first-class mail or in any other manner agreed to by the employer:

(1) Within two business days after the date of entry in the state directory of new hires of an employee who is an obligor of an order being enforced under title IV-D if the employer was identified based upon that entry; or otherwise (2) Within a reasonable time;

b. Serve notice of the national medical support notice on the obligor by first-class mail at the obligor's last-known address;

c. If the insurer notified the child support agency of more than one available health insurance coverage option, select:

(1) The option chosen by the state medicaid agency if an assignment under chapter 50-24.1 is in effect for the child;

(2) The option timely chosen by the obligee if paragraph 1 does not apply; (3) The option that provides basic coverage, that is reasonably accessible to

the child, and for which the obligor's share of the premium is lowest if paragraphs 1 and 2 do not apply; or

(4) The option that is reasonably accessible to the child and for which the obligor's share of the premium is lowest if paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 do not apply; and

d. Promptly notify the employer when a current order for medical support for which the child support agency is responsible is no longer in effect.

2. If the child support agency does not select an option under subdivision c of subsection 1 within twenty business days, the insurer shall enroll the child, and the obligor if necessary, in the insurer's default plan, if any.

3. The child support agency, the state medicaid agency, and any official, employee, or agent of either agency are immune from any liability arising out of the selection of, or failure to select, an option under subdivision c of subsection 1.

4. For purposes of this section:

a. "Basic coverage" means health insurance that includes coverage for the following medically necessary services: preventive care, emergency care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, physician services whether provided within or outside a hospital setting, diagnostic laboratory, and diagnostic and therapeutic radiological services;

b. "Employer" means an entity or individual who would be determined to be an employer under section 3401(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as

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amended [26 U.S.C. 3401(d)], and includes any governmental entity and any labor organization;

c. "Insurer" has the meaning provided in section 26.1-36.5-01;

d. "National medical support notice" means the notice promulgated pursuant to section 401(b) of the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1998 [Pub. L. 105-200; 112 Stat. 645] and regulations adopted thereunder; and

e. "Title IV-D" has the meaning provided in section 50-09-01. 14-09-08.21. Termination of parental rights - Duty of support.

A termination of parental rights does not terminate the duty of either parent to support the child before the child's adoption unless that duty is specially terminated by order of the court after notice of a proposed termination or relinquishment is given to the department of human services in the manner appropriate for the service of process in a civil action in this state. A termination of a child support obligation under this section does not relieve a parent of the duty to pay any unpaid child support.

14-09-08.22. Enforcement of health insurance coverage from an obligee.

When an obligee is required to provide health insurance coverage for a child as a beneficiary under section 14-09-08.10, the order is being enforced under title IV-D, and the obligee's employer has been identified, the child support agency may use the national medical support notice to enforce the provision of health insurance coverage for the child. When the national medical support notice is used under this section, sections 14-09-08.11, 14-09-08.20, and 26.1-36.5-03 apply unless the context indicates otherwise.

14-09-09. Liability of stepparent for support.

A stepparent is not bound to maintain the spouse's dependent children, as defined in section 50-09-01, unless the child is received into the stepparent's family. If the stepparent receives them into the family, the stepparent is liable, to the extent of the stepparent's ability, to support them during the marriage and so long thereafter as they remain in the stepparent's family. Such liability may be enforced against the stepparent by any person furnishing necessaries to such children. If an order issued under section 14-09-08.10 requires an obligee to provide health insurance coverage, any coverage that is available to the stepparent for the obligee's dependent children is considered to be available to the obligee and is enforceable against the stepparent by a child support agency. If the children are received into the stepparent's family and supported by the stepparent, it is presumed that the stepparent does so as a parent, in which case the children are not liable to the stepparent for their support, nor the stepparent to them for their services. The legal obligation of a natural or adoptive parent to support that person's children is not affected by the liability imposed upon their stepparent by this section.

14-09-09.1. Child support - Wage assignment - Procedures. Repealed by S.L. 1987, ch. 183, § 16.

14-09-09.2. Child support - Alternative procedure to withhold and transmit earnings. Repealed by S.L. 1987, ch. 183, § 16.

14-09-09.3. Child support - Duties and liabilities of income payer under income withholding order.

1. Any failure of an income payer to comply with this section or section 14-09-09.16 may be sanctioned as a contempt of court. The court shall first afford such income payer a reasonable opportunity to purge itself of the contempt.

2. Any income payer who fails or refuses to withhold or deliver income pursuant to an income withholding order, when such income payer has had in its possession such income, is personally liable for the amount of such income which the income payer failed or refused to withhold or deliver, together with costs, interest, and reasonable

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attorney's fees. If an income payer fails or refuses to withhold or deliver income for more than fourteen business days after the date an obligor is paid, the court shall award damages in an amount equal to two hundred dollars or actual damages caused by the violation, whichever is greater, in addition to the amount of income that should have been withheld or delivered, costs, interest, late fees, and reasonable attorney's fees. Any damages awarded under this subsection must be allocated by the court between each affected obligor and obligee, or made payable on behalf of an obligor to the state disbursement unit for distribution under section 14-09-25. Each remedy authorized in this subsection is a remedial sanction as defined in section 27-10-01.1. 3. Any employer who refuses to employ, dismisses, demotes, disciplines, or in any way

penalizes an obligor on account of any proceeding to collect child support, on account of any order or orders entered by the court in such proceeding, on account of the employer's compliance with such order or orders, or on account of an income withholding order, is liable to the obligor for all damages, together with costs, interest thereon, and reasonable attorney's fees resulting from the employer's action. The employer may be required to make full restitution to the aggrieved obligor, including reinstatements and backpay.

4. An income payer may be enjoined by a court of competent jurisdiction from continuing any action in violation of section 14-09-09.16.

5. Any contempt proceeding against an income payer under this section must be commenced within one year after the income payer's act or failure to act upon which such proceeding is based.

6. Compliance by an income payer with an income withholding order operates as a discharge of the income payer's liability to the obligor as to that portion of the obligor's income so affected.

7. In considering an income withholding order issued by a court or administrative tribunal in a state other than the state of the obligor's principal place of employment, the income payer shall apply the law of the state of the obligor's principal place of employment in determining any withholding terms and conditions not specified in the income withholding order or in section 14-12.2-33.1.

8. An employer who complies with an income withholding order that is regular on its face is not subject to civil liability to any individual or agency for conduct in compliance with the order.

9. An income payer who fails to withhold or deliver income for more than seven business days after the date one or more obligors are paid may be charged a late fee equal to twenty-five dollars per obligor for each additional business day the payment is delinquent or seventy-five dollars for each additional business day the payment is delinquent, whichever is greater. A late fee charged under this subsection is payable fifteen days after service on the employer, by first-class mail, of notice of the imposition of the late fee. Failure to pay a late fee under this subsection may be sanctioned as a contempt of court. Any late fee assessed by the child support agency under this subsection must be paid to the state disbursement unit for distribution under section 14-09-25 and any remaining balance must be paid to the obligor. If an income payer has failed to withhold or deliver income for more than one obligor, any late fees collected under this section must be divided equally among all affected obligors.

10. If an income payer makes an error in the remittal information the income payer provides to the state disbursement unit, the income payer has not complied with this section and is responsible for the error, but has a cause of action for reimbursement against any person that receives funds from the disbursement unit as a result of the error and refuses to return the funds upon request.

14-09-09.4. Child support - Order for wage assignment or to withhold and transmit earnings - Dissolution, revocation or modification.

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14-09-09.5. Child support - Judgment or order as lien on property - Duration - Effect. Repealed by S.L. 1981, ch. 172, § 1.

14-09-09.6. Voluntary income withholding for support - Limitations.

An obligor may execute a document voluntarily authorizing income withholding from current or future income due the obligor from an income payer in an amount sufficient to meet any child support obligation imposed by a court or otherwise. An income withholding authorization made under this section is binding on the income payer one week after service upon the income payer by first-class mail, or in any other manner agreed to by the income payer, of a true copy of the executed income withholding authorization. The income payer shall deduct the sum or sums specified and pay them as specified by the income withholding authorization and any applicable imposition of a support obligation by a court. In addition, the income payer may deduct a fee of three dollars per month from the obligor's income to cover expenses involved in transmitting payment. Compliance by an income payer with an income withholding authorization issued under this section discharges the income payer's liability to the obligor for that portion of the obligor's income. The income payer may not use the income withholding authorization as a basis for any disciplinary action against the obligor.

14-09-09.7. Child support guidelines.

1. The department of human services shall establish child support guidelines to assist courts in determining the amount a parent should be expected to contribute toward the support of the child under this section. The guidelines must:

a. Include consideration of gross income. For purposes of the guidelines, gross income does not include an employee benefit over which the employee does not have significant influence or control over the nature or amount unless:

(1) That benefit may be liquidated; and

(2) Liquidation of that benefit does not result in the employee incurring an income tax penalty.

b. Authorize an expense deduction for determining net income. c. Designate other available resources to be considered.

d. Specify the circumstances that should be considered in reducing support contributions on the basis of hardship.

e. Include consideration of extended periods of time a minor child spends with the child's obligor parent.

f. Authorize a rebuttal of the presumption provided in subsection 4 based on the proportionate net income of the obligor and the obligee when the net income of the obligee is at least three times higher than the net income of the obligor.

g. Include consideration of an obligated party's responsibility for health insurance coverage or other medical support under section 14-09-08.10.

2. The guidelines may not take into consideration cases of atypical overtime wages or nonrecurring bonuses over which the obligor does not have significant influence or control.

3. The department shall accept and compile pertinent and reliable information from any available source in order to establish the child support guidelines. Copies of the guidelines must be made available to courts, state's attorneys, and upon request, to any other state or county officer or agency engaged in the administration or enforcement of this chapter.

4. There is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support that would result from the application of the child support guidelines is the correct amount of child support. The presumption may be rebutted if a preponderance of the evidence in a contested matter establishes, applying criteria established by the child support agency which take into consideration the best interests of the child, that the child support amount established under the guidelines is not the correct amount of child support. A written finding or a specific finding on the record must be made if the court determines that the presumption has been rebutted. The finding must:

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b. Identify the criteria that rebut the presumption of correctness of that amount; and c. State the child support amount determined after application of the criteria that

rebut the presumption.

5. The department shall institute a new rulemaking proceeding under section 28-32-02 relating to the child support guidelines to ensure that the application of the guidelines results in the determination of appropriate child support award amounts. The initial rulemaking proceeding must be commenced with a notice of proposed adoption, amendment, or repeal by August 1, 1998, and subsequent rulemaking proceedings must be so commenced at least once every four years thereafter. Before commencing any rulemaking proceeding under this section, the department shall convene a drafting advisory committee that includes two members of the legislative assembly appointed by the chairman of the legislative management.

6. The guidelines established under this section may include a separate amount of child support for the child's health insurance coverage, reimbursement for public health coverage provided under chapter 50-29, and other medical support.

14-09-09.8. Out-of-state wage withholding orders - Filing requirements. Repealed by S.L. 1987, ch. 183, § 16.

14-09-09.9. Effect of filing out-of-state wage withholding order. Repealed by S.L. 1987, ch. 183, § 16.

14-09-09.10. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, unless the context or subject matter otherwise requires: 1. "Arrears registry" means the registry maintained under section 50-09-02.7.

2. "Business day" means every day that is not a Saturday or legal holiday.

3. "Child support" means payments for the support of a child, including payments for health insurance coverage or other medical support, and payments for the support of spouses or former spouses with whom the child is living as long as the spousal support payment is owed to the spouse or former spouse under the same order as the payments for the child, if the payment is required by the order of a court or other governmental agency having authority to issue such orders, and includes past-due support.

4. "Child support agency" means the department of human services in execution of its duties pursuant to the state plan submitted under chapter 50-09 in conformance with title IV-D of the Social Security Act [Pub. L. 93-647; 88 Stat. 2351; 42 U.S.C. 651 et seq.].

5. "Delinquent" means a situation which occurs on the first working day after the day upon which a child support payment was identified as due and unpaid, and the total amount of unpaid child support is at least equal to the amount of child support payable in one month.

6. "Disposable income" means gross income less deductions required by law for taxes and social security.

7. "Employer" means income payer.

8. "Health insurance" includes fees for service, health maintenance organization, preferred provider organization, comprehensive health association plan, accident and health insurance policies, group health plans as defined in section 607(1) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 [Pub. L. 99-272; 100 Stat. 281; 29 U.S.C. 1167(1)], and other types of coverage under which major medical coverage may be provided in a policy, plan, or contract which may legally be sold or provided in this state.

9. "Income" means any form of payment, regardless of source, owed to an obligor, including any earned, unearned, taxable or nontaxable income, workforce safety and insurance benefits, disability benefits, unemployment compensation benefits, annuity

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and retirement benefits, but excluding public assistance benefits administered under state law.

10. "Income payer" means any person, partnership, firm, corporation, limited liability company, association, political subdivision, or department or agency of the state or federal government owing income to an obligor and includes an obligor if the obligor is self-employed.

11. "Monthly support obligation" means an amount of child support ordered by a court or administrative tribunal in a proceeding to establish or modify a child support obligation, including amounts that are deferred for payment at a later date. The term is defined without regard to any amount of child support that an obligor is required to pay to avoid being held in contempt of court. If an amount of past-due support has been ordered as a lump sum rather than determined on a monthly basis, "monthly support obligation" means one hundred sixty-eight dollars.

12. "Obligee" means a person, including a state or political subdivision, to whom a duty of support is owed.

13. "Obligor" means any person owing a duty of support.

14. "Past-due support" means child support that is not paid by the earlier of:

a. The date a court order or an order of an administrative process established under state law requires payment to be made; or

b. The last day of the month or other period the payment was intended to cover. 15. "Payday" means the day upon which the income payer pays or otherwise credits the

obligor.

14-09-09.11. Income withholding order.

When a judgment or order requires the payment of child support, it may be enforced by an income withholding order, as provided in this chapter, in addition to any other remedies provided by law.

14-09-09.12. Provision of notice of impact of income withholding law to obligors. Each judgment or order issued by a court in this state which includes an order for support of minor children, but which does not require immediate income withholding, must include a statement that a delinquency in payment of the support due or the approved request of the obligee will result in an income withholding order being issued in accordance with this chapter.

14-09-09.13. Procedure - Notice to obligor.

If immediate income withholding under section 14-09-09.24 has not been implemented and an obligor is delinquent, if an obligee's request for income withholding is approved, or if a court changes its finding that there is good cause not to require immediate income withholding, the child support agency shall serve the notice required under this section upon the obligor whenever issuing an income withholding order. The notice must state:

1. That the obligor is delinquent in the payment of child support, that a request for withholding has been made by the obligee and approved by the child support agency, or that there is no longer good cause not to require immediate income withholding, as the case may be, and the obligor is therefore subject to an income withholding order on all income.

2. The amount of child support owed and the amount of arrearage, if any.

3. The total amount of money that will be withheld by the income payer from the obligor's income in each month as determined under section 14-09-09.30.

4. That the income payer may withhold an additional sum of three dollars to cover the income payer's expenses.

5. That the income withholding order has been issued without further order of the court. 6. That the obligor may contest the issuance of the income withholding order by filing a

written request for hearing within ten days of the date of the notice made under this section.

Figure

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References

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