Skip to main content

Getting divorced can be a difficult and emotional process, and in North Dakota, there are specific steps that must be followed in order to ensure a legal and proper divorce. The procedures for divorce in North Dakota are designed to provide clarity and structure, but they can be confusing for those who are unfamiliar with the process. As someone who has gone through a divorce in North Dakota myself, I understand the importance of having accurate and up-to-date information about the process.

The first step towards getting a divorce in North Dakota is to file a Summons and Complaint for Divorce with the clerk of the district court. A copy of this document must also be served to the other party (the spouse). Once the other party is served, they have a certain amount of time to respond, and if they do not respond within that timeframe, the divorce will proceed as uncontested. If the other party responds, either agreeing or disagreeing with the terms in the divorce complaint, the case will be considered contested and additional steps may have to be taken.

Meeting Residency Requirements

When seeking a divorce in North Dakota, there are certain residency requirements that must be met before you can file for divorce. These requirements are in place to ensure that the divorce case is heard within the jurisdiction of North Dakota.

Before you can file for divorce in North Dakota, at least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for six months preceding the filing. This means that the spouse must have resided in North Dakota for a continuous period of six months and have the intent to make North Dakota his or her permanent home.

If you meet this requirement and are seeking a divorce, you can now proceed to file for divorce in the appropriate court. However, if you do not meet the residency requirement but still wish to file for divorce, you will have to wait until you have met the requirement. Attempting to file for divorce without meeting the residency requirements can result in delayed proceedings and even dismissal of your case.

In some cases, you may be able to satisfy the residency requirement in less than six months if you can prove that you are stationed in North Dakota for military purposes. If you are stationed in North Dakota for military purposes, you may file for divorce in North Dakota immediately, even if you have not lived in North Dakota for six months.

It’s important to note that residency requirements may vary slightly between different states and local jurisdictions. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce attorney in North Dakota who can guide you through the proper procedures and ensure that all the requirements are met before filing for divorce.

Filing the Divorce Petition

Once you have decided to file for divorce in North Dakota, the first step is to file a divorce petition. This is a legal document that formally initiates the divorce process and outlines the basic information about you and your spouse, such as your names, identifying information, date of marriage, and grounds for divorce.

To file for divorce in North Dakota, you must meet the residency requirement, which means that you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing. You will file the divorce petition in the district court where either you or your spouse resides.

To complete the divorce petition, you should include the following information:

  • Your full name, address, and contact information
  • Your spouse’s full name, address, and contact information
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Grounds for divorce (e.g., irreconcilable differences, adultery, cruelty)
  • Requests for relief, such as child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division

It’s important to be as detailed and accurate as possible when completing the divorce petition. You will also need to sign the petition under penalty of perjury, stating that the information you have provided is true and correct to the best of your knowledge.

Once you have completed the divorce petition, you must file it with the clerk of court and pay the filing fee. The court will then issue a summons, which is a legal notice that informs your spouse that a divorce action has been filed against them. The summons must be served on your spouse along with a copy of the divorce petition.

In North Dakota, you can serve the summons and petition by personal service, certified mail, or publication if you cannot locate your spouse. It’s essential to complete proper service of process to ensure that your spouse has notice of the divorce action and an opportunity to respond.

Overall, filing a divorce petition in North Dakota is the first step in ending a marriage. It’s essential to understand the legal requirements and follow the proper procedures to ensure a smooth and efficient divorce process.

Serving the Divorce Papers

Once you have filed for divorce in North Dakota, you must serve the divorce papers to your spouse. This means that you must provide your spouse with a copy of all the legal documents related to the divorce.

It’s important to note that serving the divorce papers must be done properly, according to North Dakota law. Failure to follow the correct procedures can lead to delays in the divorce process, or even dismissal of the case.

There are a few ways that you can serve your spouse with the divorce papers in North Dakota, including:

  • Personal Service: This means handing the papers directly to your spouse.
  • Substituted Service: If you are unable to personally serve your spouse, you can ask the court to allow you to serve the papers to another adult who lives in the same household as your spouse. You must also mail a copy of the papers to your spouse at their last known address.
  • Service by Publication: If you are unable to locate your spouse, you can ask the court for permission to serve the papers by publishing a notice in a local newspaper.

It’s worth noting that serving the divorce papers can often be an emotionally charged and difficult experience. As such, it’s important to work with your divorce attorney to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Additionally, your spouse may respond to the divorce papers once they have been served. North Dakota law allows your spouse 21 days to respond to the divorce complaint after being served.

In some cases, your spouse may not agree with the terms of the divorce, such as child custody arrangements or division of property. If this happens, the divorce can become contested and more complex. You should work closely with your attorney to navigate any legal challenges that may arise and protect your best interests.

By understanding the proper steps to serve divorce papers to your spouse in North Dakota, you can ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. Remember to work closely with your divorce attorney and follow all appropriate legal procedures to avoid any unnecessary complications or delays.

Completing Financial Disclosure

One important step in the divorce process is completing financial disclosure. This is the process of identifying and disclosing all financial assets and debts to your spouse and the court. In North Dakota, completing financial disclosure is a required step in the divorce process.

Financial disclosure helps ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of the financial situation and can make informed decisions about property division, spousal support, and child support. Failure to complete financial disclosure could result in legal consequences and delay the divorce process.

To complete financial disclosure in North Dakota, you will need to fill out and submit a financial affidavit form. This form requires you to provide detailed information about your income, expenses, assets, and debts. You will need to provide documentation to support the information you provide on the form, such as bank statements, tax returns, and income statements.

It’s important to be thorough and honest when completing financial disclosure. Failing to disclose financial information or providing false information could result in legal consequences and damage your credibility with the court.

Once both spouses have completed financial disclosure, they can begin property division negotiations. The court will consider the financial information provided in completing financial disclosure when making decisions about property division and spousal support.

In summary, completing financial disclosure is an essential step in the divorce process, required by law, and necessary to ensure both parties have a clear understanding of the financial situation. By being thorough and honest in completing financial disclosure, you can help ensure a smoother divorce process and a fair outcome.

When going through the divorce process in North Dakota, one of the toughest parts is deciding whether to negotiate a settlement or take the case to trial. Here are some important points to consider when deciding between the two options.

Negotiating Settlement or Attending Trial

Negotiating a Settlement

Negotiating a settlement outside of court can be a less expensive and time-consuming option for divorce. The process involves sitting down with your spouse and their attorney and working out an agreement that both parties can live with. Here are some things to keep in mind if you decide to negotiate a settlement:

  • Hire a mediator. A mediator can help facilitate the discussion if you and your spouse are struggling to reach an agreement on your own.
  • Be realistic about your expectations. You may not get everything you want in the settlement, so decide what issues are most important to you and focus on them.
  • Know your finances. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your assets and debts so you can negotiate a fair settlement.

Attending Trial

Sometimes, settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, and the case must be taken to trial. While this option can be more time-consuming and costly, it may be necessary if you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of the divorce. Here are some things to keep in mind if you decide to attend trial:

  • Hire an experienced attorney. Going to trial requires an attorney who is not only knowledgeable in divorce law, but who also has experience in the courtroom.
  • Be prepared for a longer process. Trials can take several months or more, depending on the complexities of your case and the court‚Äôs schedule.
  • Be willing to compromise. During the trial, the judge may make decisions that aren‚Äôt exactly what you were hoping for. Be prepared to make compromises and continue negotiating with your spouse if necessary.

Ultimately, the decision to negotiate a settlement or attend trial is up to you. Both options have their pros and cons, so be sure to weigh them carefully before making a decision.

To finalize a divorce in North Dakota, both parties must sign a divorce judgment. This is a legal document that outlines the terms of the divorce, including property division, child custody, child support, and alimony. Once the divorce judgment is signed, it must be filed with the court.

After filing the divorce judgment, there is typically a waiting period before the divorce becomes final. In North Dakota, this waiting period is 60 days. Once the waiting period is over, the divorce is final.

If both parties are able to reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce, the divorce can be finalized relatively quickly and easily. However, if there are disputes over property division, child custody, or other issues, the divorce process can become more complicated and may require litigation.

Once the divorce is final, both parties are free to remarry if they choose to do so. It’s important to note that any decisions made in the divorce judgment are final and binding, so it’s crucial to carefully consider all aspects of the divorce before signing the judgment.

In summary, finalizing a divorce in North Dakota involves signing a divorce judgment and filing it with the court, waiting for the 60-day waiting period to end, and ensuring that any disputes are resolved before the divorce becomes final.

Child Custody and Support

One of the most important issues to consider when getting divorced in North Dakota is child custody and support. This involves determining how the children will be cared for, including where they will live and who will have legal responsibility for making decisions about their upbringing.

In North Dakota, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. This means that the court will consider factors such as the child’s age, health, relationship with each parent, and the ability of each parent to provide a stable and safe home environment.

Parents can work together to create a parenting plan that outlines the details of custody and visitation arrangements. The court will review this plan and approve it if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.

If the parents are unable to agree on a parenting plan, the court will make a determination based on the evidence presented. This may involve appointing a custody evaluator to assess the situation and make recommendations to the court.

In addition to child custody, parents will also need to address the issue of child support. North Dakota uses a formula to calculate child support payments based on the income of both parents, the number of children, and other factors. This ensures that the child’s financial needs are met and that both parents are contributing fairly to the child’s care.

It’s important for parents to work with an experienced family law attorney to ensure that their rights and the best interests of their children are protected throughout the divorce process. By taking the time to address these critical issues early on, parents can ensure that their children have the support and stability they need to thrive.

Division of Property and Debt

One of the most contentious issues to arise during a divorce is the division of property and debt. In North Dakota, property and debt are divided based on the principle of equitable distribution. This means that marital property and debt are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally.

The first step in dividing property and debt is to determine which assets and liabilities are marital property and debt. Generally, marital property is any property that was acquired during the marriage, while marital debt is any debt incurred during the marriage. Non-marital property and debt, such as property acquired before the marriage or through inheritance, is typically exempt from division.

Once the marital property and debt have been identified, the court will consider a number of factors in determining how they should be divided. These factors include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The income and earning potential of each spouse
  • The contributions of each spouse to the marriage, including both financial contributions and contributions as a homemaker
  • The value of each spouse’s non-marital property
  • Any agreements made by the parties regarding the division of property and debt.

The court may order the sale of property or the transfer of ownership in order to effect the division of property and debt. In some cases, the court may award one spouse a larger share of the marital property to offset their share of marital debt.

It is important to note that North Dakota is not a community property state, which means that property and debt are not automatically divided equally between the parties. Instead, the court will strive to divide property and debt in a way that is fair and equitable based on the particular circumstances of the case.

Alimony or Spousal Support

In North Dakota, alimony or spousal support is a monetary payment made by the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse after a divorce. The purpose of alimony is to provide financial support to the receiving spouse until they are able to become financially independent. Alimony can be awarded in both fault and no-fault divorces.

The amount of alimony and the duration of payments depend on several factors, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The earning capacity and income of each spouse
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The age, health, and needs of each spouse
  • The contributions of each spouse to the marriage

If the couple cannot come to an agreement on alimony, the court will make a determination based on these factors. In North Dakota, the court may order either temporary or permanent alimony. Temporary alimony is awarded during the divorce proceedings and is typically of a shorter duration. Permanent alimony, on the other hand, continues for a longer period of time and may be adjusted in the future if there are significant changes in circumstances.

It is important to note that North Dakota law requires that all property division and spousal support issues be resolved prior to granting the divorce. This means that alimony must be addressed as part of the divorce settlement or decided by the court.

Overall, alimony in North Dakota is designed to provide financial support to the lower earning spouse after a divorce. The amount and duration of payments will depend on various factors, but ultimately, the goal is to help the receiving spouse become financially independent.

When facing the complex process of divorce, it may be beneficial to seek legal assistance. In North Dakota, there are several options available for obtaining legal help during the divorce process.

Hiring an Attorney

One option for obtaining legal assistance during a divorce is to hire an attorney. A divorce attorney can provide crucial guidance and support throughout the entire process. They can help with negotiating settlements, filing paperwork, and representing their client in court. It is essential to find an attorney who practices family law and who is licensed to practice in North Dakota.

Legal Assistance Resources

There are also resources available to individuals who may not be able to afford an attorney. The Legal Services of North Dakota provides legal assistance to low-income residents who qualify. The Legal Services of North Dakota can help with divorce and other family law matters. Another resource is the North Dakota Bar Association’s lawyer referral service. This service can help connect individuals with legal professionals who specialize in family law.

Pro Se Representation

An individual may also choose to represent themselves, which is called pro se representation. While not recommended for everyone, pro se representation can be an option for individuals with relatively simple divorce cases. It is important to note that self-representation can be risky and may not result in the best outcome for all parties involved.

Obtaining legal help during a divorce can make the process much smoother and can ensure that all parties involved are protected. Hiring an attorney, utilizing legal assistance resources, or representing oneself are all options available in North Dakota. It is crucial to weigh the pros and cons of each option and choose what is best for one’s unique situation.


In conclusion, getting a divorce in North Dakota can be a long and emotionally challenging process. It requires careful consideration and a fair amount of paperwork. However, with the right information and guidance, you can navigate through the process and make informed decisions that will lead to a successful outcome.

Before filing for divorce, it’s important to understand the legal requirements and procedures involved. This includes meeting the residency requirements, filing the appropriate paperwork, and attending court hearings as necessary. Additionally, it’s important to consider the financial and emotional implications of divorce and seek support from family, friends, or professionals as needed.

Throughout the process, it’s crucial to communicate effectively with your spouse and any legal counsel involved. This can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts that can further complicate an already difficult situation.

Remember, divorce is a significant life event that requires careful planning and preparation. By following the steps outlined in this article and seeking legal advice as needed, you can make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Leave a Reply