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Grounds for Divorce Under North Dakota Divorce Laws

North Dakota divorce laws may grant a divorce on the following grounds:

  1. Adultery
  2. Extreme cruelty
  3. Willful desertion for a period of one year
  4. Willful neglect for a period of one year
  5. Habitual intemperance for a period of one year
  6. Conviction of a felony
  7. Insanity for a period of five years
  8. Irreconcilable differences

Residency Requirements

Before you may file for divorce in any state, you must first establish residency in that state. In order to file for divorce in North Dakota, the the person filing  a divorce action must be a resident of the state for at least six months.

Venue (Where to File)

An action for divorce must be filed in the county where the defendant (the spouse who is not filing for divorce) resides.  If the defendant is not a resident of the State of North Dakota, you may file in any county of your choosing.

Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties

The filing spouse is called the Plaintiff and the other spouse is called the Defendant. An action for divorce in North Dakota is filed in the District Court.  The  action initiating the divorce is called the Complaint for Divorce and the action granting the divorce is called a Decree of Divorce.

Legal Separation

North Dakota divorce laws allow a decree of legal separation to be granted on the same grounds as a Decree of Divorce. A legal separation is not the same as a divorce, however, as it still leaves you legally married until you apply for and obtain a Decree of Divorce. You may also not get remarried until that time.

Alimony

Alimony may be awarded on a permanent basis or for a limited duration as the court deems just – taking into consideration the circumstances of the parties.

Property Division

If the parties are unable to agree to the division of property, it will be up to the court to equitably distribute the real and personal property of the parties as it deems just and proper.

Mediation

In any proceeding involving child custody, support, or visitation of a child in which the custody or visitation issue is contested, the court may order mediation at the parties’ own expense.

However, the court may not order mediation if the issue involves or may involve physical or sexual abuse of any party or the child of any party to the proceeding.

Child Custody

In the matter of child custody, the court will make the decision based upon the best interests and welfare of the child.  Factors the court will consider in determining the child’s best interests include:

  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the child and parents
  • The capacity and disposition of the parents to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education of the child
  • The disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, etc.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • The permanence of the existing custodial home
  • The moral fitness of the parents;
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The home, school and community record of the child
  • The reasonable preference of the child
  • Evidence of domestic abuse
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with any person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests
  • The making of false accusations of harm to the child
  • Any other relevant factor

Child Support

In the matter of child support, the non-custodial parent will be court-ordered to make payments as per the requirements of the state. The State of North Dakota has enacted child support guidelines, which establish the amount of child support that is presumed to be the correct amount to be paid.

Name Change

North Dakota case law permits any person to change his or her name upon request.

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