What is divorce?
Divorce is a legal action that ends or "dissolves" a marriage. Here are the basic steps for getting a divorce:
- First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state. See Am I eligible to file for divorce in North Dakota?
- Second, you must have "grounds" (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage. See What are the grounds for divorce?
- Third, you file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse.
- Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, then s/he will have the opportunity to file papers telling his/her side. This is called "contesting the divorce." If s/he contests it, then you will have a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse agrees with everything, then s/he will most likely sign the papers and send them back to you. If your spouse agrees with everything and signs the papers, this is called an "uncontested divorce."
- Fifth, if there is property that you need divided or if you need financial support from your spouse, then you will have to work that out either in an out-of-court settlement or in a series of court hearings. Custody can be decided as part of your divorce.
You and your spouse can agree in writing to be legally separated and agree to support payments paid by one of you to the other and arrange a plan for child support. A court can enforce these written agreements, unless a judge decides that they are extremely unfair to one of the parties.1
1 N.D.C.C. § 14-07-07