A minor child is an individual who is under eighteen (18) years of age.
A guardianship of a minor child is a state court process where a judge appoints a guardian to act in the place of a parent of the minor child. A legal relationship is created between the guardian and the minor child, allowing the guardian to care for and make decisions on behalf of the minor child.
Any person whose appointment is in the best interests of the minor child may be appointed guardian by a state court.
A guardianship does not terminate or sever the parent’s parental rights.
For more information about resources available to assist kinship caregivers, including guardians of minor children, go to Kinship ND.
Two State Court Processes for Establishing Guardianship of a Minor Child
In North Dakota there are two different state court processes to petition a court to establish a guardianship for a minor child:
- North Dakota State District Court:
- The minor child’s parent is deceased and there is no other living parent, or any other living parent’s parental rights are terminated by court order;
- The deceased parent left a will;
- The deceased parent’s will named a guardian (or guardians) for the minor child; AND
- The deceased parent’s will is being probated in a North Dakota state district court.
- North Dakota Juvenile Court:
- The circumstances do not meet the requirements to petition a North Dakota state district court.
- Generally, North Dakota Juvenile Court holds an in-court hearing before appointing a guardian.
- A North Dakota Juvenile Court may appoint a guardian without holding an in-court hearing only when:
- All living parents of the minor child consent in writing to the appointment of a specific guardian (or guardians). If a living parent’s parental rights are terminated by court order, the parent’s consent is not required. OR
- All parents are either deceased, or their parental rights are terminated by court order.
Criminal Background Checks
Before a North Dakota state court may appoint a guardian for a minor child, a criminal background check is required.
Proposed guardians in North Dakota State District Court guardianship proceedings must file a criminal history record check report before the Court may approve the appointment. For information about the process, instructions and forms, go to the North Dakota Attorney General website.
Proposed guardians in North Dakota Juvenile Court guardianship proceedings must complete a criminal history record investigation through the North Dakota Department of Human Services. All adults who will be living with the proposed guardian(s) must also complete criminal history record investigations. For information about the process, instructions and forms, go to the North Dakota Department of Human Services website.
Training Course for Guardianships of Minor Children
Learn when a guardianship of a minor child is needed, the responsibilities of a guardian of a minor child, and how to start a case to ask a North Dakota state court to appoint a guardian of a minor child.
Forms and Guides for Guardianships of Minors
Forms are not available for every situation or circumstance. If you do not find a form that suits your circumstances on this website, the form is not 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 Section of this website may be used as a starting point for creating your own legal documents.
- North Dakota State District Court Minor Guardianship Forms and Guides
- Minor guardianships established as part of the probate of a deceased parent’s will.
- Includes forms and instructions for:
- Accepting the nomination as guardian of a minor child in a deceased parent’s will.
- Declining the nomination as guardian of a minor child in a deceased parent’s will.
- Objecting to the person nominated as guardian of a minor child in a deceased parent’s will.
- North Dakota Juvenile Court Minor Guardianship Forms and Guides
- Minor guardianships that do not meet the requirements for North Dakota State District Court appointment of a guardian.
- Includes a variety of forms and instructions.
- Beginning Inventory Report
- Annual Report
- Guardianship Review Hearings
- Terminate Guardianship and Discharge Guardian(s) Forms
- Final Report of Guardianship
- Out of State Court or Tribal Court Guardianships
Selected Statutes (Laws) & Rules
Following are legal research starting points related to guardianships of minor children. You may need to conduct additional legal research into your legal issue. See the Legal Research Section of this website.
- Chapter 14-14.1 of the North Dakota Century Code
- Chapter 27-20.1 of the North Dakota Century Code
- Chapter 27-20.2 of the North Dakota Century Code
- Chapter 27-20.3 of the North Dakota Century Code
- Chapter 30.1-27 of the North Dakota Century Code
- Chapter 50-11.3 of the North Dakota Century Code
- The North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure
- The North Dakota Rules of Evidence
- The North Dakota Rules of Juvenile Procedure
Following are other resources that may be of interest.
- Legal Research Resources for North Dakota Guardianships of Minors (Flickertale, July 2019, Pages 11-12)
- Juvenile Court Service Instructions and Forms
- Power of Attorney
- Uniform Non-Parent Custody and Visitation Act
- Kinship ND
If you do not understand any of this information, or if you have trouble filling out any of the forms located here, please see an attorney for help.
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If you have a question relating to a case that is already filed please contact the clerk of court for the county