North Dakota Divorce

Residency Requirements

A divorce may not be granted unless the plaintiff has been a resident of the state for six months 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 divorce may be granted if the plaintiff has been a resident of this state for the six months immediately preceding entry of the divorce decree.


Grounds for Divorce

Divorce in North Dakota may be granted for any of the following causes:

1. Adultery.
2. Extreme cruelty.
3. Willful desertion.
4. Willful neglect.
5. Abuse of alcohol or controlled substances.
6. Conviction of felony.
7. Irreconcilable differences.


Division of Property

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 and debts in a postjudgment proceeding if a party has failed to disclose property and debts as required or the party fails to comply with the terms of a court order distributing property and debts.


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.


Child Custody

For the purpose of parental rights and responsibilities, 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:

a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and child and the ability of each parent to provide the child with nurture, love, affection, and guidance.
b) The ability of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and a safe environment.
c) The child’s developmental needs and the ability of each parent to meet those needs, both in the present and in the future.
d) The sufficiency and stability of each parent’s home environment, the impact of extended family, the length of time the child has lived in each parent’s home, and the desirability of maintaining continuity in the child’s home and community.
e) The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.
f) The moral fitness of the parents, as that fitness impacts the child.
g) The mental and physical health of the parents, as that health impacts the child.
h) The home, school, and community records of the child and the potential effect of any change.
i) If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a child is of sufficient maturity to make a sound judgment, the court may give substantial weight to the preference of the mature child. The court also shall give due consideration to other factors that may have affected the child’s preference, including whether the child’s preference was based on undesirable or improper influences.
j) Evidence of domestic violence.
k) The 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.
l) The making of false allegations by one parent against the other of harm to a child.
m) Any other factors considered by the court to be relevant to a particular parental rights and responsibilities dispute.


Child Support

Parents shall give their children support and education suitable to the child’s circumstances. The court may compel either or both of the parents to provide for the support of their children. The age of emancipation in North Dakota is 19 or when the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs first.


Sources (North Dakota divorce laws)


North Dakota Resources


Laws & Courts:

North Dakota Law – state statutes relating to divorce appear at section 14-05 with child support statutes lower in the page.
Supreme Court – includes opinions, court rules, calendar information, district court information, and more.
North Dakota Court Rules – all levels of the judiciary are included.

Additional Resources:

Children’s Rights Council – national nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that works to assure children meaningful and continuing contact with both their parents and extended family regardless of the parents’ marital status.
Judicial system glossary – from the ND Supreme Court site (see above).

Report broken links or send suggestions by contacting us.

Additional Links

The State Resource pages are provided for informational purposes only. Do not take any actions based upon the information contained within the State Resource pages without first consulting an attorney licensed in your state. We at strive to keep our information up-to-date; however state laws are not static and subject to change without notice.