North Dakota Divorce Procedures

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The state of North Dakota situated in the Midwestern region of the United States is marked for a unique feature- highest marriage rate and lowest divorce rate in the nation. In 2009, the divorce rate was 2.5 per 1000 population. The rate has decreased during the last two decades from 1990 to 2010. The rate may be high or low, but the separating couple need to follow the North Dakota divorce procedures when they file for a case. You can hire the services of an efficient lawyer who will explain the various dimensions of your case. But possessing some good knowledge about the basics will help you to realize whether the lawyer is fighting for your rights in the right direction or not.

There are different procedures of a divorce case which starts with the filing of the Petition and ends with the Judge issuing the decree. All the important steps common to many cases are explained below:

Initial steps of a North Dakota Divorce

The first step is to file a Petition. This can be done in one of the following modes:

  • The Petitioner can hire a lawyer to complete all the essential forms and have them filed in the appropriate court
  • If the Petitioner cannot or does not desire the services of a lawyer, it is possible to get low cost representation from organizations that offer legal representation at a low cost or even for free
  • Another option is that the Petitioner procures the forms from the clerk of court, fills them completely and files them himself or herself

North Dakota Divorce Procedure regarding Service

The second step is service of the Petition. Service means that the case papers are handed over to the Respondent. The intent is that the Respondent should know that the Petitioner has applied for a divorce. Moreover, the other message to be conveyed is that the Respondent must approach court if the Respondent desires to be involved in it or contest it.

In this state, it is not compulsory by law that the papers must be served to the Respondent by the Petitioner personally. The Petitioner may approach the Sheriff's Department to execute the service. It has been frequently seen that this Department serves the Respondent. The other options are that the Petitioner can ask a private process server or constable for service. It is advisable that if the Respondent has been abusive towards the Petitioner, the Petitioner must never serve the papers personally.

North Dakota Divorce Procedure regarding Answer

Starting from the date of service, the Respondent is allocated 20 days to file an Answer. In case this duration passes by and the Respondent does not answer, then the Judge proceeds with what is called a Default Judgment. As per this Judgment, the Petitioner receives whatever has been demanded in the Petition.

In some cases, the Respondent produces an Answer in which the Respondent agrees with the Petitioner. This is categorized as an Uncontested Divorce. In such a case the Petitioner receives all that is demanded in the Petition.

When the Respondent produces an Answer in which there is a disagreement with the Petitioner, then such a case is called as a Contested Divorce.

The procedure of Discovery

Discovery means that both divorcing partners exchange information pertaining to the specific case and attempt to draft an agreement between them. The intention of this agreement is that they need not allow the Judge to decide the issues. If the partners succeed in creating an agreement they submit it to the Judge.

The Judge arranges for an informal hearing during which it is ascertained that both the divorcing partners have understood the terms of the agreement. The Judge issues a decree, if the agreement is approved.


When the divorcing partners fail to draft an agreement, the case proceeds to the trial stage. During this phase, the divorcing partners can argue for their aims and they can display evidences supporting their say. Generally, without the assistance of a lawyer, it is very tough to undergo a trial. The Judge considers both sides and concludes what is fair enough and accordingly issues a decree.

Since every divorce case has its grounds and complexities, the trials and procedures will also be different in accordance with the state laws. Be patient while undergoing the court procedures and stay focused to fight your case legally.

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