How to File for Divorce in North Dakota

Get a divorce in North Dakota

North Dakota is a big state with a small population, but it is also the largest producer of sunflowers in the country. If your marriage has wilted like an old flower you need to know how to file a divorce in North Dakota.

1. Residency requirements

The person filing for divorce in North Dakota must be a resident of the state for six months before starting a divorce proceeding. This ensures that couples cannot simply choose where to get a divorce, it must be where they actually live.  

If a spouse starts a divorce before hitting six months of residency, then the court can still award the divorce, but it must wait until six months of residency has been reached.

2. Many reasons for divorce

In North Dakota, a marriage can be ended for many reasons.  

One spouse can claim that the other has done something wrong, and that is called a “fault” divorce. Fault grounds include adultery, extreme cruelty, willful desertion, willful neglect, abuse of alcohol or drugs, and conviction of a felony.  

In reality, there is not much benefit to proving fault. These grounds are mostly a historical artifact.  

Most divorces are granted on “no-fault” grounds, which, in North Dakota, is called irreconcilable differences. That is defined as “substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage.” In other words, the couple just wants to split up and the court will let them.

3. Equitable division of property

Equitable division of properties

When granting a divorce, a North Dakota court is required to divide up the property and debts of each spouse. This requires first adding up the property the couple owns.  

Marital property is property the couple received during their marriage and excludes things like inheritances that were directed at one spouse. Once all that money and property is added up, the court must divide it fairly.  

In reality, this is almost always done through an agreement between the spouses. If they cannot come to an agreement, then the court must decide.  

The court will usually try to divide things equally, but one spouse may get more if the court thinks it would be fairer. For example, a homemaker spouse might get a bigger share of the property in order to make ends meet without a spouse.

Spousal support can also be awarded for a period of time so that one spouse can help the other get back on his or her feet.

4. Issues with children

Issues with children

If a divorcing couple has children, then their custody and support must also be hammered out at the time of a divorce. North Dakota requires parents to propose their own parenting plan for the child.  

In most divorces, the couple will work out an agreement on custody and then the court will just review the plan to make sure it is in the best interest of the child.  

In more tricky situations, the court will have to decide who should get custody. North Dakota then uses guidelines considering the income of each spouse and other factors to figure out if one spouse should pay support to the other.  

This support is generally collected and paid through a government portal.  

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