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North Dakota Divorce Laws

The following divorce laws in North Dakota are unique to those people who wish to terminate their marriage.

We are providing the important North Dakota divorce laws online as an easy reference guide to help you complete your paperwork for filing for divorce in North Dakota.

Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in North Dakota, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:

A separation or divorce may not be granted unless the plaintiff in good faith has been a resident of the state for six months next preceding commencement of the action. If the plaintiff has not been a resident of this state for the six months preceding commencement of the action, a separation or divorce may be granted if the plaintiff in good faith has been a resident of this state for the six months immediately preceding entry of the decree of separation or divorce.

The Dissolution of Marriage is typically filed with in county in which the filing spouse resides. (North Dakota Century Code - Volume 3A - Chapters: 14-05-17 and 28-04-05)

No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of North Dakota the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:

A. Irreconcilable differences. Irreconcilable differences are those grounds which are determined by the court to be substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved. (North Dakota Century Code - Volume 3A - Chapters: 14-05-03)

Filing Party Name: The Plaintiff. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Complaint for Divorce with the county court.

Non-Filing Party Name: The Defendant. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.

Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: State of North Dakota, County of __________, In the District Court, __________ Judicial District. All divorce cases in the state of North Dakota are facilitated through this court for that particular county.

Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a North Dakota clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: District Clerk's Office.

Property and Debt Division: North Dakota is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.

When a divorce is granted, if the parties can not agree otherwise, the court shall make an equitable distribution of the property and debts of the parties.

The court may redistribute property in a postjudgment proceeding if a party has failed to disclose property and debts as required by rules adopted by the Supreme Court or the party fails to comply with the terms of a court order distributing property and debts. (North Dakota Century Code - Volume 3A - Chapters: 14-05-24)

Changing Name: The wife may request at the time of filing for a divorce to have her name restored to her former or maiden name.

Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.

If the parties have not agreed to a support amount, the court will take into consideration the circumstances of the parties, the court may require one party to pay spousal support to the other party for any period of time. The court may modify its spousal support orders and all support orders may be made through the clerk of the court. (North Dakota Century Code - Volume 3A - Chapters: 14-05-24)

Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the North Dakota courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.

For the purpose of custody, 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: 1. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and child. 2. The capacity and disposition of the parents to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education of the child. 3. The disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in lieu of medical care, and other material needs. 4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity. 5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home. 6. The moral fitness of the parents. 7. The mental and physical health of the parents. 8. The home, school, and community record of the child. 9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference. 10. Evidence of domestic violence. 11. The interaction and interrelationship, or the potential for interaction and interrelationship, of the child with any person who resides in 12. The making of false allegations not made in good faith, by one parent against the other, of harm to a child. 13. Any other factors considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute. (North Dakota Century Code - Volume 3A - Chapters: 14-05-22, 14-09-06, 14-09-06.1 and .2)

Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the North Dakota child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.

The court will decide and establish a support obligation for those spouses that cannot come to an agreement. The court will apply the support guidelines by suing the net incomes of each parent as well as examining the resources that are available to each parent and any out of the ordinary circumstances that may warrant the inability to pay a certain amount of support. If the court desires, the support amount can be garnished from wages to ensure accurate and timely payments.

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. (North Dakota Century Code - Volume 3A - Chapters: 14-08-07, 14-09-08, 14-09-08, 14-09-09)

Copyright Notice: These North Dakota divorce laws above are copyrighted by 3 Step Solutions, LLC. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.

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