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Divorce is a judgment of a court that dissolves the marriage.

A North Dakota State District Court may grant a divorce, even if neither spouse was married in North Dakota.

There are two ways to get a divorce in North Dakota:

  • File a Complete Agreement Together (Uncontested Divorce): If both spouses agree in writing on absolutely everything in their divorce, they complete all of the necessary settlement agreement paperwork together. After they’ve completed all of the necessary paperwork, they file it with the court. If the spouses correctly file every document the court needs to grant the divorce, the divorce is generally granted quickly and without a hearing.

  • One Spouse Starts the Divorce (Contested Divorce): If the spouses can’t agree on everything in their divorce, or if one of the spouses can’t be located, one spouse may start the divorce process on their own. If the spouses aren’t able to reach a settlement of all issues after the divorce starts, the court schedules a trial. At the trial the judge or judicial referee decides the unresolved issues. The time from start to finish largely depends on whether spouses can reach agreements and the court’s caseload.

Parties in a Divorce

The Plaintiff or Petitioner is the spouse who starts the divorce.

The Defendant or Respondent is the spouse who doesn’t start the divorce.

Residency Requirement for Divorce

The spouse starting the divorce, also called the Plaintiff or Petitioner, must meet the residency requirement for a North Dakota State District Court to grant a divorce.

The Plaintiff or Petitioner be a resident of North Dakota at least 6 months before starting the divorce.

Or, the Plaintiff or Petitioner be a resident of North Dakota for 6 months immediately before the District Court grants the judgment of divorce.

Grounds (Reasons) for Divorce

North Dakota is a “no fault” divorce state. The grounds (reasons) for a no fault divorce is “irreconcilable differences.” Irreconcilable differences are substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage and which make it appear the marriage shouldn’t be resolved. The Plaintiff or Petitioner doesn’t need to prove anyone did anything wrong to cause the divorce. They only need to claim that the spouses have irreconcilable differences. To grant a no fault divorce, the judge or judicial referee need only find that irreconcilable differences exist.

North Dakota has other grounds (reasons) to end a marriage that aren’t used very often. The other grounds require the Plaintiff or Petitioner prove “fault.” Fault divorces are extremely uncommon and complicated. The ND Legal Self Help Center doesn’t have any forms or guides for fault divorces.

You Must Calculate Child Support

If your divorce includes minor or dependent children, you’re required to calculate child support. You must calculate child support even if you and your spouse have agreements between yourselves related to child support.

If you don’t want to establish child support as part of your divorce, you still must complete the child support calculations. The judge or judicial referee decides whether it’s in the best interests of the children to waive, or stay, your child support payments.

If you plan to ask the judge or judicial referee to allow you to pay a different amount of child support than the child support calculations say, you must prove you meet one of the limited exceptions for paying a different amount. You must also prove paying a different amount is in the best interests of the children.

You may be able to apply for services with North Dakota Child Support. If your application for full services is approved by North Dakota Child Support, they can help to establish an order for child support and medical support in a separate child support case.

Forms and Guides for Divorce

North Dakota Legal Self Help Center forms aren’t official court forms and courts aren’t required to accept them. There’s no guarantee that all judges and courts will accept forms available through the Center. Use at your own risk.

Divorce forms aren't available for every situation or circumstance.  If you don't find a form that suits your circumstances on this website, the form isn't available through the North Dakota Legal Self Help Center.

You may need to create legal documents yourself.  The General-Use forms in the District Court Civil Action Section of this website may be used as a starting point for creating your own legal documents.

Divorce Forms:

File for Divorce Together – No Children

  • Both spouses agree in writing to 100% of the issues in the divorce before filing anything with the District Court

File for Divorce Together – With Children

  • Both spouses agree in writing to 100% of the issues in the divorce before filing anything with the District Court

Summary Divorce – With or Without Children

  • Uncomplicated divorce; Limited disagreement; Net assets $50,000 or less; 1 hearing required

Start a Divorce on Your Own – for Plaintiff

  • Spouses can’t agree on all issues in the divorce, or one spouse can’t be located; Spouse starting divorce (Plaintiff) must be a resident of North Dakota for at least 6 months

Answer or Respond to a Divorce Complaint – for Defendant

  • Written answer and counterclaim to a summons and complaint for divorce; 21 day deadline starts the day after spouse (Defendant) was served with summons and complaint

Steps You Must Take Before the Court Can Grant a Divorce (Divorce Case Management) – for Both Spouses

  • Deadlines to exchange information and complete and file a variety of documents; mediation for contested custody; request interim (temporary) orders; attend the scheduling and pre-trial conferences (hearings)

Preparing for Your Divorce Trial – for Both Spouses

  • If unable to settle all issues and reach a settlement agreement, a divorce trial is scheduled; Legal research starting points for the many things you need to do to prepare

Get the Final Divorce Judgment – Both Spouses

  • Motion for default divorce judgment if Defendant didn’t answer the summons and complaint; Proposed divorce findings and orders, and proposed divorce judgments

Divorce Informational Guides:

  • Motion for Default Divorce Judgment – for Plaintiff
    • Provides basic, step-by-step guide for making a motion for a default divorce judgment
    • The Plaintiff may make a motion when the Defendant didn't answer the Summons and Complaint
    • Includes formatting examples of common motion for default divorce judgment documents

  • Answer to Motion for Default Divorce Judgment – for Defendant
    • Provides basic, step-by-step guide for answering a motion for a default divorce judgment
    • If the Defendant doesn't answer the motion, the court may grant the divorce without the Defendant’s input
    • Includes formatting examples of common answer to motion for default divorce judgment documents

Selected Statutes (Laws) & Rules

Following are legal research starting points related to divorce. You may need to conduct additional legal research into your legal issue.  See the Legal Research Section of this website.

Other Resources

Following are other resources related to divorce proceedings that may be of interest.

If you don't understand any of this information, or if you have trouble filling out any of the forms located here, see a lawyer for help.

The information provided on and obtained from this site doesn't constitute the official record of the Court. This information is provided as a service to the general public. Any user of this information is hereby advised that it is being provided "as is". The information provided may be subject to errors or omissions. Visitors to this site agree that the Court isn't liable for errors or omissions of any of the information provided.

If you have a question relating to a case that is already filed please contact the clerk of court for the county.