How to File for Divorce in North Dakota

How to file divorce in North Dakota

It’s essential to understand what the processes and laws of filing for divorce in North Dakota are before you begin your case.

Here’s what you need to know:

What Information Do I Need to Prepare for Divorce in North Dakota?

important information

The best way to prepare for your divorce is to gather all the information you might need in advance.  Remaining organized and thorough will ease the process as much as possible.

If you can, start quietly gathering this information in advance, since some spouses become highly uncooperative after you’ve let them know of your intentions.

We’ve prepared a checklist you can access as part of our article, The Ultimate Divorce Checklist:  The Information You Need to Prepare for Divorce.

Determining Which Divorce Procedure to Use

Divorce Procedure to Use

The process you use for your divorce will be driven in part by how much cooperation there is between you and your spouse.  If you can agree to settle issues between you in advance, that’s a much different experience than dragging out a fight for months on end trying to solve your differences.

Just like every divorce is different, every process is different, and that will drive the framework you work under.  To see what your options are, review our article, What Are the Types of Divorce to help you start to decide the best course of action.

What Forms Do I Need?

Necessary Forms to Prepare

In North Dakota, the forms you need to use will depend on the circumstances of your divorce.

Divorce forms are not available for every situation or circumstance.  You may need to create legal documents yourself.  There are general use forms in the District Court Civil Action of the State of North Dakota Courts website that can be used to assist you.

If you have a contested divorce, the state has prepared an informational guide that may be useful, especially if the form sets above do not apply.  Take a look at the Contested Divorce for Plaintiff and Defendant if this situation applies to you.

If you want help creating your documents, consult a lawyer licensed to practice in North Dakota. Ask the lawyer about Limited Legal Representation, which means an attorney may agree to help you with part of your divorce, such as preparing legal documents, while you handle the rest of the divorce.

You and the lawyer must agree in writing to Limited Legal Representation.

How Do I File My Forms?

How Do You File Your Forms for a Divorce

Once your forms are complete, you must serve your spouse and then meet with them within 30 days to exchange a variety of disclosure information.

After this meeting takes place, you will file your paperwork, including:

  • Summons
  • Complaint
  • Affidavit of Custody Jurisdiction (if children are part of the contested divorce action)
  • Proof of Service of Summons, Complaint and Plaintiff’s Affidavit of Custody Jurisdiction
  • on Defendant
  • Confidential Information Form
  • Joint Informational Statement
  • Preliminary Property and Debt Listing

You will also need to pay an $80 filing fee at that time.

After receiving notice of filing of the summons and complaint, the Defendant must file the following original, completed documents with the Clerk of District Court and pay a $50 filing fee:

  • Answer and Counterclaim
  • Defendant’s Affidavit of Custody Jurisdiction (if children are part of the contested divorce action)
  • Proof of Service of Answer and Defendant’s Affidavit of Custody Jurisdiction on Plaintiff
  • Defendant’s Confidential Information Form

How Do I Serve My Forms on My Spouse?

You can serve forms on your spouse by registered mail, through the use of a process server or sheriff’s deputy or through service by publication.

Service by publication involves running legal notices in local newspapers, once a week for three consecutive weeks, in the county where the case has been filed.

When service has been completed, an affidavit attesting to the completion must be filed with the court to provide proof of service took place.

Contact your local courthouse for instructions on how to serve a defendant who no longer lives in North Dakota.

After I’ve Filed, What are the Steps for Getting a Divorce?

As you file paperwork, the court will review the forms, and if they are approved, the documents can be served on the defendant.

You must complete proof of service by having the paperwork legally served on your spouse.  This can be done by registered mail, or through the use of a process server or sheriff’s deputy.  Proof of service must be filed with the court to show this step has been completed.

Once proof of service is complete, parties must exchange disclosure information that lists assets, debts, and other important financial information.

A hearing will be set in about 60 days.

In an uncontested divorce, if the court agrees with the terms of the proposed settlement between both parties, the divorce will be finalized immediately after this review.

In a contested divorce, the parties will need to either enter some kind of negotiations (mediation, collaborative divorce), or proceed to litigation where a judge will listen to the evidence and make rulings on things like child custody and support, alimony, a division of assets, and other critical issues.

Read More:  50 Ways to Prepare for Divorce

FAQs About Getting a Divorce in North Dakota

How much does it cost to file for a divorce?

cost to file for a divorce

It costs $80 for an initial filing fee.  Filing a response costs $50 in filing fees.  If you don’t have the means to pay, you can request a fee waiver.

You may also be required to pay other associated fees, depending on your case.

Can divorce fees be waived?

In some cases, yes.  The waiver is granted on an inability to pay.  Forms and instructions to ask the court to waive filing fees are available here.

The completed fee waiver request forms are filed at the same time as the summons and complaint.

Can I file for divorce online?

divorce online

No.  In North Dakota, you must file paperwork in person with your local Clerk of the District Court.

You can, however, begin to fill out your paperwork with the help of an online service like It’s Over Easy. Their company is the #1 in online divorce paperwork support and can even help you draft a settlement agreement.

Can I file for divorce without a lawyer?

file for divorce without a lawyer

Yes.  In North Dakota, you can represent yourself in a divorce case.  Be aware that the courts will expect you to know and follow the same legal procedures as an attorney.

What are the residency requirements for getting a divorce?

A Plaintiff must be a North Dakota resident for six consecutive months before the divorce.

How long does it take to get a divorce in North Dakota?

How long does it take

With an uncontested divorce, after you file paperwork, you may be able to complete your divorce in as little as 60 days.  Some of this will depend on the court’s backlog and schedule.  When parties agree on all issues in advance they may not even need to appear in court, instead agreeing to a stipulated judgment.

However, if you are going through a contested divorce, the process can take months to complete, depending on the level of animosity and the complexity of your unresolved issues.

Can I file for divorce while I’m pregnant?

divorce while I am pregnant

You can file for divorce, but a divorce typically does not become final until after the child is born.  This makes it easier to determine paternity and child support issues.

If I’m in the military, how does that affect filing for divorce?


If you or your spouse are in the military, to get a divorce in North Dakota, you must either live in the state or be stationed there.

Many of the same state laws that apply for civilian divorces also apply to military divorces but there are a few notable differences.

For example, child custody and visitation issues can be more complicated due to relocation or deployment orders.  Child support is determined in the same way as it is for civilian cases.  The catch here is that child support and alimony awards can’t exceed 60% of a servicemember’s pay and allowances.

Also, active-duty members are afforded certain protections pursuant to the Service Members’ Civil Relief Act, and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) of 1982,

For example, a military spouse can request a delay in divorce proceedings so that his or her military duties are not impacted.  Legal action can be delayed when he or she is on active duty plus 60 days beyond the end of his or her enlistment.

The USFSPA also governs how military pensions are disbursed and whether or not a former military spouse has full medical and commissary privileges.  The USFSPA governs the authorization of direct payment of a portion of a military retiree’s pay to the former spouse.

For this to happen, the former spouse must have been married at least 20 years; the military spouse had at least 20 years of creditable service, and those two overlapped by at least 20 years.

Read More: Laws Governing Military Divorces

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