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North Dakota Legal Separation
Legal Separation in North Dakota

In North Dakota a legal separation runs the same course as a divorce, but the separated spouses may not marry. People may legally separate as an alternative to divorce for religious or economic reasons. The court normally grants a legal separation on the ground that the marriage is broken. Like a divorce, a legal separation requires property division and determination of child custody and placement. The court may order maintenance and child support payments as well.

Upon the granting of a separation, the court may include in the decree an order requiring a party to pay for spousal support and for the support of any minor children of the parties. Subject to Section 14-05-24, the decree may also provide for the equitable division of the property and debts of the parties. The court may order mediation for the parents and/or counseling for the children, at the parties’ own expense.

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal binding contract signed by spouses, which is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending upon the unique situation of the marriage. Many spouses consult an attorney to provide this or they decide to prepare their own.

Grounds

North Dakota offers both fault and no-fault grounds for legal separation. For no-fault separation, the parties establish grounds by showing that they have “irreconcilable differences.” For fault-based decrees the plaintiff must prove adultery, extreme cruelty, willful desertion, willful neglect, felony conviction, and abuse of controlled substances or alcohol.

Residency

The plaintiff must reside in North Dakota for six months, and the defendant must reside in the state, and the petition is filed with the court in the defendant’s local circuit.

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