North Dakota Divorce Laws

If you find that a divorce is the only possible solution for your marital problems in North Dakota, you may want to start the process by learning more about the laws that affect divorces in your state.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

In order to file for divorce in North Dakota, you must first meet the state’s residency requirements. This means the plaintiff, or the individual filing for divorce, must be a resident of the state for the six months prior to filing.

In North Dakota, you are allowed to file a no-fault divorce due to irreconcilable differences. These have to be determined by the court as substantial enough to constitute a cessation of the marriage.

Those who file for fault divorce can do so on one of the following charges:

  • Willful neglect
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Abuse of alcohol or controlled substances
  • Adultery
  • Willful desertion
  • Conviction of a felony

If the plaintiff is a member of the military and wishes to file for divorce in North Dakota, working with an attorney who is aware of the ins and outs of military family law is a good idea. In addition to meeting the requirements of the state, these individuals will also need to meet the requirements of the military.

Division of Property

North Dakota distributes property on the equitable distribution model. This divides it based on what the courts feel is fair, but not necessarily on what is equal. If the parties cannot agree on the division of property, the court will make the decision for them. If the courts find that one of the parties in the divorce failed to disclose either property or debts, they retain the right to restructure the property distribution.

Child Custody

If the courts are required to determine child custody arrangements, they will strive to make a decision based on what is in the child’s best interests. In most cases, the parents will be encouraged to come to a custody agreement for their children. When the courts must step in, they will consider the following factors:

  • Love, affection, and emotional ties between each of the parents and the child.
  • The parents’ ability and willingness to give the child love, guidance, and affection, and to further the child’s education
  • The parent’s willingness to provide clothing, food, medical care, including remedial care or natural alternatives, and other material needs
  • How long the child has lived in a stable environment, and whether it is desirable to continue that
  • The permanence of the family unit in the proposed custodial home
  • The parents’ moral capacity
  • The parents’ mental and physical health
  • The community, home, and school of the child
  • The child’s preferences, if reasonable and if the child is old enough to have such preferences
  • Any evidence of domestic violence
  • The interrelationship, interaction, and potential for these between the child and any person who lives in or regularly visits the household
  • The making of false allegations by one parent against the other to harm the child
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant to the child’s best interests


In some divorce cases, the courts will deem it necessary for one spouse to continue providing support to the other. The courts will look at a variety of factors, primarily considering the economic circumstances of each party, when determining if support is required.

Children may also be given child support through payments to the custodial parent form the non-custodial parent. The state uses the Percentage of Income Formula. This calculates the amount the non-custodial parent pays as a percentage of his or her income based on the number of children requiring support.