Do your own divorce
North Dakota - Divorce Requirements
The following information is to provide a basic understanding of the various aspects of North Dakota divorce.

Click here for more specific information regarding North Dakota divorce laws.

Every effort has been made to assure that the information contained in these pages is accurate however, due to the ever changing nature of the law some material may be outdated or may no longer apply.

Residency Requirements A separation or divorce may not be granted unless the plaintiff in good faith has been a resident of the state for six months next preceding commencement of the action. 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.
Where to File The county in which the defendant resides.
The county in which the plaintiff resides if the defendant is a non- resident of North Dakota
Grounds for Divorce A divorce can be granted under North Dakota laws for any of the following grounds:
  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Willful desertion
  • Willful neglect
  • Abuse of alcohol or controlled substances
  • Conviction of felony
  • Adultery
Voluntary or required mediation Yes
Voluntary or recommended CounselingYes
Property Distribution 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 postjudgment 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.
Child Custody An order for custody of an unmarried minor child entered pursuant to this chapter must award the custody of the child to a person, agency, organization, or institution as will, in the opinion of the judge, promote the best interests and welfare of the child. Between the mother and father, whether natural or adoptive, there is no presumption as to who will better promote the best interests and welfare of the child.

Best interests and welfare of child - Court consideration - Factors.
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. In awarding custody or granting rights of visitation, the court shall consider evidence of domestic violence. If the court finds credible evidence that domestic violence has occurred, and there exists one incident of domestic violence which resulted in serious bodily injury or involved the use of a dangerous weapon or there exists a pattern of domestic violence within a reasonable time proximate to the proceeding, this combination creates a rebuttable presumption that a parent who has perpetrated domestic violence may not be awarded sole or joint custody of a child. This presumption may be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of the child require that parent's participation as a custodial parent. The court shall cite specific findings of fact to show that the custody or visitation arrangement best protects the child and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence. If necessary to protect the welfare of the child, custody may be awarded to a suitable third person, provided that the person would not allow access to a violent parent except as ordered by the court. If the court awards custody to a third person, the court shall give priority to the child's nearest suitable adult relative. The fact that the abused parent suffers from the effects of the abuse may not be grounds for denying that parent custody. As used in this subdivision, "domestic violence" means domestic violence as defined in section 14-07.1-01. A court may consider, but is not bound by, a finding of domestic violence in another proceeding under chapter 14-07.1.
  • 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 as defined in section 50-25.1-02.
  • Any other factors considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
Child Support There are specific child support guidelines that will determine how much child support should be paid in North Dakota. Child support typically can't be waived by the parents, although a judge might decide this on a case-by-case basis, looking at all factors. If you and your spouse agree to an amount of child support that's different than the guidelines would order, the judge will decide if that amount is in the child's best interests.

Waiving Child Support. An agreement purporting to relieve an obligor of any current or future duty of child support is void and may not be enforced. An agreement purporting to waive past-due child support is void and may not be enforced unless the child support obligee and any assignee of the obligee have consented to the agreement in writing and the agreement has been approved by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Spousal Support 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. The court may modify its spousal support orders. There are no specific guidelines for alimony in North Dakota's statutes. Alimony will be decided on a case-by-case basis.