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North Dakota Child Custody
Child Custody in North Dakota

North Dakota Century Code, Chapters 14-09-06.2 mandates that either parent may get custody based on the best interests and welfare of the child.

The North Dakota family courts have jurisdiction over child custody cases and protect the best interests of the child. Either joint custody or sole custody may be awarded.

The state's family courts urge divorcing parents to work together to fashion a parenting plan for the support and care of their child while living separately. The court resolves issues on child custody, support, and visitations rights when parents cannot. Relevant facts should be evaluated by the court and are the basis of their decision. These factors include:

  • the child's wishes or preferences as to custody, provided that he or she is mature enough to make such claims;
  • the child's ability to adjust to his/her home, school, and community;
  • the parents' ability and willingness to provide for the child's needs such as food, medical care, clothing, shelter, religious training;
  • the nature of relationship and interaction between the child, parents, and any other members of the family that directly affects the child's welfare;
  • the parents' moral fitness;
  • the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory, and nurturing environment, and the willingness of the parents to maintain continuity of such desirable environment;
  • the parents' willingness to foster and maintain a healthy relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • any history of domestic violence, child abuse, negligence, or substance abuse; and
  • the mental or physical health of the parties involved in the proceedings.

Parents may file a petition requesting modifications of the court-ordered custody arrangement. However, there is a two-year waiting period unless something substantial occurs that threatens the child's welfare.

Mandatory Parenting Class

North Dakota courts have the right to require divorcing parents with minor children to complete a parenting class before granting a divorce. It is the Judge's discretion, so he or she may require you to take a parenting class. Whether or not you are required to do so, we highly recommend taking the Children In Between parenting class for the benefit of your child(ren).

Joint Custody Preference

North Dakota law expresses a preference for parents to share as equally as practically possible in the custody of a child in a divorce case. Joint custody is deemed beneficial for the child since both parents have joint rights and responsibilities. However, this may not always be applicable when the child's welfare is at risk with the other parent.

Parental Conduct

In addition to finding a parent unfit because of substance abuse or abuse or neglect towards a child, the courts also consider the conduct of both parents during the course of the marriage, and the impact of parental behavior on the child.

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