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North Dakota Family Law: An Overview

North Dakota family law regulates important topics such as marriage, divorce, child support and alimony. While you may rarely need a lawyer or step into a court for any other reason, it is likely that family life in North Dakota will require an understanding of the laws that govern it.

Issues such as the process you need to complete before your Fargo wedding or the steps you need to take to file for divorce in Bismarck are part of state law. LawInfo is here to help find the information you need to understand these often complex issues. Our North Dakota Family Law section includes legal overviews, summaries of state laws and other resources to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.

North Dakota Marriage Requirements

Before a couple plans their wedding in North Dakota, they must be sure that they can actually legally get married in the state. North Dakota’s requirements for marriage are:

  • Both parties must be at least 18 years old (without consent of a parent or guardian)
  • Any party who is 16 or 17 must have the consent of their parents or guardian
  • Neither party can already be married
  • The couple cannot be related as parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, siblings, uncles/aunts and nephews/nieces, or as first cousins

North Dakota Marriage License Guidelines

A couple must be issued with a marriage license before they can get married. To receive a marriage license in North Dakota, both parties must:

  • Provide identification to show they are old enough to get married, or evidence that they have the permission of at least one parent or guardian
  • Show documentation of any previous divorces
  • Not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol

The application for a marriage license also requires a couple to specify what their surnames will be after marriage. There is no requirement that either party should change their name.

Once the license is issued, there is no waiting period before a couple can get married. The license remains valid for 60 days. If either party is resident in North Dakota, the license can be used throughout the state. However, if neither party is a resident, they must get married in the same county they received their license from.

North Dakota Divorce Requirements

A marriage can fall apart for many reasons and there is often confusion over what the process of divorce involves. To file for divorce in North Dakota, the person starting the process must have been resident in the state for six months, or have lived in the state for six months before the decree of separation or divorce is issued.

Divorce in North Dakota can be based on the following grounds:

“Irreconcilable differences” simply means that a marriage relationship has broken down with no reasonable hope of repair, and that neither spouse is to blame. This form of “no fault” divorce can be filed at any time. However, for other grounds of divorce, a court may deny a divorce where they believe an unreasonable amount of time has passed since the grounds for ending the marriage were alleged to have happened.

After a divorce is granted, a court may order one party to pay support to their former spouse. This will be terminated when the party receiving support gets remarried. If the couple has not created a premarital agreement sharing out property and financial obligations, the court will aim to fairly divide property and debts between the former spouses.

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