North Dakota Divorce Laws

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RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE: The spouse filing for divorce must be a resident of North Dakota for at least 6 months prior to the filing of the divorce or 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; Chapters 14-05-17 and 28-04-05].

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE: No-Fault: Irreconcilable differences. [North Dakota Century Code; Chapter 14-05-03]. General: (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; and (7) habitual intemperance (drunkenness). [North Dakota Century Code; Chapter 14-06-01]. NAME OF COURT IN WHICH TO FILE FOR DIVORCE: District Court. " State of North Dakota, County of __________, In the District Court, __________ Judicial District". TITLE OF DIVORCE ACTION: Complaint for Divorce. NAME USED TO DESCRIBE SPOUSE FILING FOR DIVORCE: Plaintiff. NAME USED TO DESCRIBE OTHER SPOUSE IN DIVORCE: Defendant. TITLE OF FINAL DIVORCE PAPERS: Decree of Divorce.

LEGAL SEPARATION: 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; and (8) habitual intemperance (drunkenness). 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 or commencement of the action. [North Dakota Century Code; Chapters 14-05-03, 14-06-01, and 14-06-06].

SIMPLIFIED OR SPECIAL DIVORCE PROCEDURES: Separation agreements are specifically authorized by statute. [North Dakota Century Code; Chapter 14-07-07].

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; Chapter 14-09.1-02].

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; Chapter 14-05-24].

ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE/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 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; Chapter 14-05-24].

SPOUSE'S NAME: Upon request, a wife's former or maiden name may be restored. [North Dakota Case Law].

CHILD CUSTODY: 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; (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 the parents; (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 or 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 r existing custodial home; (13) the making of any false accusations by one parent against the other; and (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; Chapters 14-05-22, 14-09-06, 14-09-06.1 and 14-09-06.2].

CHILD SUPPORT: Either parent may be ordered to pay child support. The amount awarded will be based on consideration of the amount that is needed to give the child support and an education suitable to the child's circumstances. There are specific child support guidelines that the court will consider which have been prepared by the North Dakota Department of Human Services. Until June 30, 1999, child support payments are required to be paid through the state disbursement office. All child support orders will be reviewed every 3 years, unless neither parent requests such a review. [North Dakota Century Code; Chapters 14-09-08, 14-09-08.1, 14-09-08.4, and 14-09-09.7]

PREMARITAL AGREEMENT: The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties and enforceable without consideration. The agreement is enforceable if proven that (1) the agreement was not executed voluntarily; (2) the agreement was unconscionable when executed and before execution of the agreement, the party was not provided fair and reasonable disclosure of the other party's financial or property obligations, did not voluntarily waive disclosure of these obligations and did not have notice of them; (3) if the agreement modifies or eliminates spousal support and that causes the other party to be eligible for public assistance. If a court finds that to enforce the agreement would be unconscionable, it may refuse to enforce it. If the marriage is determined to be void, the agreement is enforceable only to the extent necessary to avoid an inequitable result. [North Dakota Century Code; Chapters 14-3.1-03, 14-3.1-06, 14-3.1-07, and 14-3.1-08].

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