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Minor Guardianship


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.

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. 

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.

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.

Other Resources

Following are other resources that may be of interest.

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.

The information provided on and obtained from this site does not 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 is not 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