Divorce Guide

Divorce Guide

North Dakota Divorce Laws

Residency Requirements for Divorce in North Dakota
The spouse filing for divorce must be a resident of North Dakota for at least 6 months prior to the entry of the final divorce. If the defendant is a resident of North Dakota, the divorce must be filed in the county where the defendant resides. If the defendant is not a resident, the divorce may be filed for in any county that the plaintiff designates in the complaint.
[North Dakota Century Code; Volume 3A, Chapters 14-05-17 and 28-04-05]. Legal Grounds for Divorce in North Dakota
  1. No Fault Divorce: Irreconcilable differences.
    [North Dakota Century Code; Volume 3A, Chapter 14-05-03].
  2. General Divorce:
    1. Adultery
    2. Confinement for incurable insanity for a period of 5 years
    3. Conviction of a felony
    4. Willful desertion
    5. Cruel and inhuman treatment
    6. Willful neglect
    7. Habitual intemperance
    [North Dakota Century Code; Volume 3A, Chapter 14-05-03].

Legal Separation in North Dakota
The grounds for legal separation (separation from bed and board) in North Dakota are:

  1. Irreconcilable differences
  2. Adultery
  3. Confinement for incurable insanity for a period of 5 years
  4. Conviction of a felony
  5. Willful desertion
  6. Cruel and inhuman treatment
  7. Willful neglect
  8. Habitual intemperance
The spouse filing for legal separation must be a resident of North Dakota for at least 6 months prior to the entry of the legal separation.
[North Dakota Century Code; Volume 3A, Chapters 14-06-01 and 14-06-06].

Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in North Dakota
Separation agreements are specifically authorized by statute.
[North Dakota Century Code; Volume 3A, Chapter 14-07-07].

Divorce Mediation or Counseling Requirements
In an action for divorce or legal separation where child support or child custody is an issue, the court may order the parents to submit to mediation, unless there has been physical or sexual abuse of a spouse or child.
[North Dakota Century Code; Volume 3A, Chapter 14-09.1-02].

Divorce Property Distribution
North Dakota is an "equitable distribution" state. All of the spouse's property, including gifts, inheritances, and any acquired prior to the marriage, will be equitably distributed as the court feels is just and proper. There are no factors for consideration specified in the statute.
[North Dakota Century Code; Volume 3A, Chapter 14-05-24].

Alimony and Spousal Support
Either spouse may be required to make allowances for the support of the other spouse for his or her entire life or a shorter period. All of the circumstances of the situation, including any marital fault, may be considered. There are no other specific factors for consideration set out in the statute. Support payments may be required to be made through the clerk of the court.
[North Dakota Century Code; Volume 3A, Chapter 14-05-24].

Spouse's Name After Divorce
Upon request, a wife's former or maiden name may be restored.
[North Dakota Case Law].

Child Custody After Divorce
Child custody is awarded according to the best interests and welfare of the child, and based on the following factors:

  1. Moral fitness of the parents
  2. Capability and desire of each parent to meet the child's needs incuding food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs
  3. Preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity
  4. The love and affection existing between the child and each parent
  5. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  6. The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
  7. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  8. The stability of the home environment likely to be offered by each parent
  9. The child's interaction with anyone who resides with a parent, including such person's history of violence of any type
  10. Any spouse or child abuse, sexual abuse, or history of domestic violence or violence of any type
  11. The capacity and disposition of the parents to give the child love, affection, guidance, and continue the child's education
  12. The permanence, as a family unit, of the proposed or existing custodial home
  13. The making of any false accusations by 1 parent against the other
  14. Any other factors
Any evidence of child or spouse abuse or domestic violence creates a presumption that custody or visitation with that parent would not be in the best interests of the child. If there is any evidence of sexual abuse of a child, the court is required to prohibit any visitation or contact with that parent unless the parent has completed counseling and the court determines that supervised visitation is in the best interests of the child. Both parents are considered to be equally entitled to custody of a child.
[North Dakota Century Code; Volume 3A, Chapters 14-05-22, 14-09-06, 14-09-06.1, and 14-09-06.2].

Child Support After Divorce
Either parent may be ordered to pay child support. The amount awarded will be based on a consideration of the following factors:

  1. The net income of the parents
  2. The other resources available to the parents
  3. Any circumstances that might be considered in reducing the amount of support on the basis of hardship
There are specific child support guidelines that the court will consider which have been prepared by the North Dakota Department of Human Services. Child support payments are required to be paid through the state disbursement office. The court can order child support payments be guaranteed by wage assignments and wage withholding orders. All child support orders will be reviewed every 3 years, unless neither parent requests such a review.
[North Dakota Century Code; Volume 3A, Chapters 14-08-07, 14-09-08, 14-09-08.1, 14-09-08.4, 14-09-09.1, 14-09-09.2, and 14-09-09.7]

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