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North Dakota Divorce Laws


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North Dakota Divorce Laws


A separation or divorce may not be granted unless the plaintiff has been a resident of the state for six months before filing the petition. 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 action must be brought in the county in which the defendant or one of the defendants resides at the time of the commencement of the action. [Based on North Dakota Century Code; Chapters 14-05-17 and 28-04-05]


Divorces may be granted for any of the following causes:

  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty.
  • Willful desertion.
  • Willful neglect.
  • Abuse of alcohol or controlled substances.
  • Conviction of felony.
  • Irreconcilable differences.

[Based on North Dakota Century Code; Chapters 14-05-03]


The court may grant a temporary or permanent decree of separation for any cause for which a divorce may be decreed. Upon the granting of a separation, the court may include in the decree an order requiring a party to pay for spousal support and for the support of any minor children of the parties. The decree may also provide for the equitable division of the property and debts of the parties. [Based on North Dakota Century Code; Chapters 14-05-03.1 and 14-05-27]


In any proceeding involving an order, modification of an order, or enforcement of an order for the 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. The court may not order mediation if the custody, support, or visitation issue involves or may involve physical or sexual abuse of any party or the child of any party to the proceeding. [Based on North Dakota Century Code; Chapters 14-09.1-02]


When a divorce is granted, the court shall make an equitable distribution of the property and debts of the parties. The court may redistribute property in a post-judgment 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. [Based on North Dakota Century Code; Chapters 14-05-24]


Taking 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. [Based on North Dakota Century Code; Chapters 14-05-24.1]


Custody may be awarded to either the father or the mother. 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:

  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and child.
  • 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, or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in lieu of medical care, and other material needs.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed 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, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
  • Evidence of domestic violence.
  • 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.
  • The making of false allegations not made in good faith, by one parent against the other, of harm to a child.
  • Any other factors considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

[Based on North Dakota Century Code; Chapters 14-09-06.2]


The court may compel either or both of the parents to provide for the support of their children. 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:

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

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. [Based on North Dakota Century Code; Chapters 14-09-08, 14-09-08.2, 14-09-09.7]

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