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Legal Information: North Dakota

Custody

Updated: 
February 26, 2019

Can a parent who committed domestic violence get residential responsibility?

When determining parental rights and responsibilities, the just is required to consider evidence of domestic violence (as defined by law). There is a “rebuttable presumption” against the abuser getting residential responsibility for a child if:

  1. the judge believes that domestic violence happened; and
  2. either:
    • there is a pattern of domestic violence within a reasonably close time to the court case; or
    • there was one incident of domestic violence that:
      • resulted in serious bodily injury; or
      • involved the use of a dangerous weapon.1

Note: A “rebuttable presumption” means is that the judge is supposed to assume that the abusive parent should not get residential responsibility but the abusive parent can present evidence to change the judge’s mind. If the judge believes that the abusive parent provided clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of the child require the abusive parent to have residential responsibility, the judge can award it to him/her.1

In addition, even if the other parent has not committed domestic violence but s/he lives with (or often invites over) someone who is violent, the judge can consider how this may significantly affect the child’s best interests when making a custody determination. The judge will look at that person’s history of causing (or the likelihood of causing) physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault against others.2

1 N.D.C.C. § 14-09-06.2(1)(j)
2 N.D.C.C. § 14-09-06.2(1)(k)