North Dakota Child Custody Laws

A child custody case is a complicated process with many legal variables that can greatly affect the outcome. Laws surrounding child custody are not the same in every state, and these laws have a tendency to change with time. North Dakota child custody laws are not unsusceptible to changes, so if your case is taking place in this state, you'll want to educate yourself on what the laws currently are in this state. Here is some information on child custody laws in North Dakota.

Evaluating a child's best interests

Similar to many other states, North Dakota family law courts will always favor child custody arrangements which meet the best interests of the child or children involved. Evaluating a child's best interests will include taking a look into the relationships that the parents have with their child plus several aspects which demonstrate how fit to care for the child each parent is. This may include looking into how well fit each parent is to provide basic necessities such as food and shelter, and each parent's mental and physical state. Something else that will be considered is each parent's connection with their child and how well they are able to show that they care for and love their child. Parents who have a strong bond with their child at the time that custody is being determined are more likely to be granted more parenting time and responsibilities. North Dakota child custody laws are in favor of granting arrangements which promote the cultivation of relationships between a child and both of their parents, and these laws also prefer that parents are also encouraging of this. They like to see parenting situations in which both parents love and care for their child and also wish for their child to have the same connection with the other parent. 

Determining a child custody arrangement in North Dakota

In North Dakota, parents are encouraged to work out a child custody arrangement together as long as their agreement fits their child's best interests. This often takes place when parents are in agreement as to what they both want the child custody agreement to be. When they are not in agreement, the family law court will determine the arrangement instead. Both legal and physical custody will be determined, and doing so will dictate the responsibilities of each parents to their child. Legal custody notes how parents will be responsible for making important decisions for the child on matters like education or medical care. Physical custody will note how and when each parent will be physically responsible for their child. In other words, physical custody denotes parenting time or visitation. Physical custody might be shared between parents or sole, meaning that only one parent has physical custody. A child may also have a primary residence with one parent and have visitation time with their other parent. Depending on how physical custody is granted between parents, child support payments may also be determined. Part of what determines child support payments is the amount of time each parent has with their child. A parent with more time is more likely to receive support payments from the other payment, but other factors help to determine this. Each parent's income, child care costs, education expenses, and other factors will also be considered when determining child support payments. 

No matter where you live, child custody cases often entail a complex process that isn't easy to navigate if you don't have much legal knowledge. This information is meant to educate you on what you might expect during your case, but it is not to be considered legal advice. Please reach out to a family law professional such as an attorney who can offer you more thorough guidance and information in regards to your case or situation in particular. If you are looking for someone to talk to, check out our North Dakota Resources page for family law professionals in your area. 


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.