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Divorcing with Children in North Dakota

When parents divorce and choose to live separately, a number of decisions need to be made about their kids:

  • Who will the kids live with? How will we divide their time?
  • Will we share their time equally? If so, according to what schedule?
  • Will the kids live primarily with one parent? If so, when will they see the other?
  • Who will make major decisions about the kids?
  • Whose residence will determine the child’s school district?
  • May a parent relocate with the kids out of state?

Contact Gjesdahl Law to speak with an experienced divorce attorney. Our team is dedicated to helping guide you through the legal process of divorcing with children. Divorce is hard, let us handle the legalities so you can focus on what’s important.

Determining Child Custody in Divorce

North Dakota has replaced the term “physical custody” with the term “residential responsibility.” There are three kinds of residential responsibility.

  • “Primary” residential responsibility is where a judgment or order provides that a child or children will live with one of the parents more than 50% of the time.
  • “Equal” residential responsibility is where a judgment or order provides that a child or children will live with each parent exactly the same amount of time.
  • “Split” residential responsibility is where one or some children live primarily with one parent, while other siblings live primarily with the other.

Some states use the term “legal custody” to refer to the parent's decision-making authority. North Dakota doesn’t. North Dakota refers to decision-making as just that, “decision-making.” In most cases, regardless of which kind of residential responsibility is involved, courts will require parties to share “joint” decision-making. Only when there is history of intimate partner violence or some other significant communication barrier will the court award decision-making authority to only one parent.

Visitation (Parenting Time) Schedules

North Dakota has replaced the term “visitation” with “parenting time.” Its courts prioritize routine and structured parenting time schedules for divorced couples. Although living separately, each party should have quality time with the child or children to foster close and enduring relationships. Most parents understand that parenting time is an important priority. Get in touch with our Fargo family law attorneys for help in identifying parenting time and visitation that serves your child or children’s best interests.

Contested Divorce with Kids

Some couples have a difficult time agreeing on divorce terms, whether alone or with the help of a mediator or attorney. When parents can’t reach their own agreement, the court will reluctantly decide child custody terms for them. North Dakota Century Code 14-09-06.2 states: “For the purpose of parental rights and responsibilities, the best interest 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.”

Factors the court takes into consideration in this event include:

  • The love, affection, and emotional ties existing between the parents and child.
  • The maturity level of each parent in being able to provide adequate needs
  • The child’s development needs
  • The sufficiency and stability of each home environment
  • The ability and willingness of the parent to encourage a close relationship between the other parent and the child
  • The moral fitness of the parents
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The child's home, school, and community records
  • The thoughts and preferences of a sufficiently mature child
  • Any evidence of domestic violence
  • The persons living in the potential environment and those that would be around the child

Establishing Child Support

Calculating child support takes into account two factors: the parents’ income and the number of children involved in the custody arrangement. In all but a few exceptions, North Dakota courts must award child support to the parent who holds primary residential responsibility. When parents share equal custody, the court will impose separate child support obligations on each of them, based on their respective incomes. The two obligations will be offset, with the higher earner paying the difference. For child support legal services in North Dakota, get in touch with Gjesdahl Law today.

Considering Divorce?

You don’t have to go it alone. Gjesdahl Law has helped couples with children separate throughout North Dakota, often amicably and with an outcome that serves the children’s best interests. If you need help navigating divorce involving children and child custody, get in touch with a Gjesdahl lawyer. We’re here to help.

 (701) 237-3009