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Know the Laws: North Dakota

UPDATED December 17, 2015

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Who can get custody or visitation?

back to topWho can seek custody?

Either parent may seek custody of their child.  In ND, in certain "exceptional circumstances," if a judge believes that custody with either parent would harm the child's well-being, then the judge may award custody to a non-parent, including a state agency. 

A judge is required to assume that it is in the best interests of a child to be with his or her parents if the parents can adequately support the child.  Only in extreme circumstances will another person be awarded custody over the objections of a parent.   This only occurs when the child cannot be adequately cared for by either parent or if the child is in danger with the parents.  This includes if the child is not safe with either parent because of domestic violence.

* N.D.C.C.  § 27-20-02

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back to topCan a parent who committed violence get custody or visitation?

According to North Dakota law, the judge is supposed to try to make sure that both parents have the chance to spend time with the child, unless you can prove that it would not be in the child's best interest.

In ND, a judge must consider many things when deciding what is in the child's best interest, including whether or not there has been a  history or any incidents of domestic violence or sexual assault.*

If there is evidence of domestic violence, then a judge MUST consider this when determining each parent's rights and responsibilities.*    This means that a judge may decide not to award any custody or visitation, or may decide to award supervised visitation, if there is evidence of domestic violence or sexual assault.*

* N.D.C.C. §§14-09-06.2, 14-09-29

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back to topI am the child's grandparent or great-grandparent. Can I get visitation with the child?

Maybe. Grandparents and great-grandparents may be granted reasonable visitation rights with a child if the court finds that the visitation would be in the best interests of the child and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship.

The judge will consider the amount of contact between the grandparent and the child as well as the contact between the child and the parents.*

* N.D.C.C. § 14-09-05.1

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back to topI am the child's relative (other than a grandparent). Can I get visitation with the child?

Usually not. There is no legal right to visitation with a child that is not yours, unless you are the grandparent or great-grandparent.  In certain rare cases, a judge might grant visitation with a child if he or she believes that doing so is the child's best interests.*

(To see a list of factors the court will consider when deciding what is in a child's best interest, see How will a judge make a decision about custody?)

* N.D.C.C. §14-09-06.2

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WomensLaw.org would like to thank the North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services/Coalition Against Sexual Assault in North Dakota and Legal Services of North Dakota for their assistance in compiling this material.

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