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Información Legal: Dakota del Norte

Dakota del Norte: Abuso del Litigio

Information about abusive litigation in North Dakota.

What is the definition of abusive litigation in North Dakota?

“Abusive litigation” means a legal action taken in court that is intended to harass or intimidate you, keep ongoing contact with you, or retaliate against you.1 It is often carried out by an abusive partner who is trying to keep power and control over a victim who has left the relationship or is in the process of trying to leave. Abusive litigation can include any motion, pleading, petition, or other court filing.2

If you are facing abusive litigation, you may be able to ask the judge to issue an order restricting abusive litigation.

1 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-07.6-01(1)(c)
2 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-07.6-01(4)

What can a judge include in an order restricting abusive litigation?

A judge who believes that litigation is abusive will resolve the case “with prejudice,” which means that it cannot be re-filed.1 The judge will also issue an order restricting abusive litigation, which will:

  1. prohibit the abuser from starting any new cases against you without getting permission from a judge;
  2. order the abuser to pay all the costs of the case against you; and
  3. award you reasonable attorney’s fees and the costs of responding to the abusive litigation, including the money spent on filing the motion seeking the order restricting abusive litigation.2

It is possible for a judge to decide that one part of the case is abusive and another part is not, in which case the order must include a statement of which part of the case can continue.3

1 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-07.6-02(1)
2 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-07.6-02(2); N.D. R. Ct. 8.15(d)
3 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-07.6-03; N.D. R. Ct. 8.15(d)(5)

Am I eligible to request an order restricting abusive litigation?

For you to request an order, the following three things must be true:

  1. the person filing the abusive litigation (the “filing party”) must be:
  • your current or former intimate partner, which means:
  • your current or former spouse;
  • someone you have a child with; or
  • someone you are currently dating or have dated;1 or
  • anyone else who the judge decides has a “sufficient relationship” with you;2
  1. in any of the following court orders, a judge has determined that the filing party committed domestic violence or disorderly conduct against you:
  1. one of the following must be true about either the filing party or the case against you:
  • the legal claims or arguments in the case are not based on:
    • any existing law;
    • a reasonable argument that the current law should be changed; or
    • a reasonable argument for passing a new law;
  • there is no evidence supporting the factual claims;
  • the claims in the case have been litigated between you and the filing party in another court or state, and you won; or
  • the filing party has been punished (sanctioned) for litigation that is without a legal basis (frivolous), harassing (vexatious), or brought in bad faith.4 

1 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-07.6-01(1), (3)
2 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-07.6-01(1)(a)
3 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-07.6-01(1)(b)
4 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-07.6-01(1)(d)

How do I request an order restricting abusive litigation? Are there forms available to help me?

You can ask for an order restricting the abusive litigation by filing a motion in the abuser’s case against you. The case will be paused (stayed) until the judge decides your motion and issues an order.1 You must include a sworn statement (declaration) or other evidence in the motion explaining how the litigation is abusive.2

The North Dakota Legal Self Help Center has an example of a motion that includes instructions on how to fill it out for someone without a lawyer. For more information about using this form, see the State of North Dakota Courts’ page about Abusive Litigation. If you have a lawyer, the lawyer cannot use this form. Instead, your lawyer should be able to draft this motion for you and can include an additional request for the payment of your attorney’s fees.

1 N.D. R. Ct. 8.15(a)
2 N.D. R. Ct. 8.15(b)

My request for an order restricting abusive litigation was denied. What will happen next?

If after you present all of your evidence, the judge decides that the litigation against you is not abusive, the judge is required to issue a written order explaining why. The case that the abuser has brought against you will then continue normally and you will be expected to participate in it.1

You can read more about appealing an order if you believe the judge made an error, and you can look for a lawyer if you need advice on your options at this stage. If you are hoping to prevent the abuser from contacting you outside of court, you may also want to read about domestic violence protection orders and sexual assault restraining orders.

1 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-07.6-03