North Dakota Divorce Law

Divorce – State Law Summary – North Dakota

Notes:  This law summary is not intended to be an all-inclusive summary of the laws of divorce in North Dakota, but does include basic and other procedures.

A divorce may be granted in the State of North Dakota 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. Abuse of alcohol or controlled substances;
6. Conviction of a felony;
7. Irreconcilable differences.  14-05-03

Residency requirements
North Dakota requires that the plaintiff to a divorce action be a resident in good faith of the State for at least six months prior to granting a Decree of Divorce.  14-05-17

Name of court and title of action/parties
An action for divorce in North Dakota is filed in the District Court.  The title of the action initiating the divorce is a Complaint for Divorce, while the title of the action granting the divorce is referred to as a Decree of Divorce.  The party filing the action is the Plaintiff, while the other party to the action in referred to as the Defendant.

Either party may be ordered to pay alimony to the other spouse for support during life or for shorter durations as the court deems just, taking into consideration the circumstances of the parties.  14-05-24

Property division
Upon divorce, the court will equitably distribute the real and personal property of the parties as it deems just and proper.  14-05-24

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.  14-09.1-02.

Child custody
The court will award custody based upon the best interests and welfare of the child.  Between the parents there is no presumption as to who will better promote the best interests of the child.  Factors the court will consider in determining the child’s best interests include:
1. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the child and parents;
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, etc.;
4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
5. The permanence of the existing 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;
10. Evidence of domestic abuse;
11. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with any person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
12. The making of false accusations of harm to the child;
13. Any other relevant factor.

Child support
The State of North Dakota has enacted child support guidelines which establish the amount of child support which is presumed to be the correct amount to be paid.  This presumption may be rebutted by a showing of evidence that the amount under the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate.  Should the court deviate from the guidelines, it must make a written finding stating the amount that would have been owed under the guidelines, identify the reasons for deviation from the guidelines, and state the amount that is to be owed.

Name change
Although there is no statutory provision for the change of a person’s name upon entry of a decree of divorce, North Dakota case law permits a party to change his or her name upon request.

Inside North Dakota Divorce Law