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Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

Legal Information: North Dakota

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
March 19, 2020

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in North Dakota?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a domestic violence protection order.

North Dakota law defines domestic violence as when a family or household member:

  • physically harms you;
  • causes you bodily injury;
  • physically forces you into sexual activity;
  • assaults you; or
  • puts you in fear of immediate physical harm, bodily injury, physically forced sexual activity, or assault.1

1 N.D. Code § 14-07.1-01(2)

What types of protection orders are there in North Dakota and how long do they last?

There are two types of domestic violence protection orders:

Temporary (ex parte) protection orders:
A temporary protection order can be issued the day you file your petition without the abuser being present in court and without prior notice to the abuser.  A temporary order can be granted  if you can prove to the judge through your testimony or evidence that there is an immediate and present danger of domestic violence based upon a recent incident of domestic violence.1  Generally, a temporary protection order lasts until the hearing for the protection order, which is usually held within 14 days but can be later if there is “good cause” to delay it.2

Note: According to North Dakota law, if the courts are closed and you are in urgent need of an ex parte order, you may file an application for an order with a magistrate.  If there is “good cause” to do so, the magistrate can grant you an order.  Showing that you are in immediate and present danger of domestic violence is considered to be “good cause” to grant an order.  If you are granted an order by a magistrate, it will last 72 hours, or until a district court can grant you  a temporary order.3

Domestic violence protection orders:
A domestic violence protection order can be issued based upon a showing of actual domestic violence or domestic violence that is about to happen (“imminent domestic violence”).  The order can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to testify, and present evidence and witnesses to try to convince the judge to rule in your favor.  If the judge grants you the order, the judge will indicate in the order how long the order will last.4  At this hearing, you may want to try to get a lawyer to represent you so that you can be present your case.  For legal referrals, go to our ND Finding a Lawyer page. 

1 N.D. Code § 14-07.1-03(1)
2 N.D. Code §§ 14-07.1-03(4); 14-07.1-02(2)
3 N.D. Code § 14-07.1-08
4 N.D. Code § 14-07.1-02(4); see North Dakota Supreme Court DVPO Instructions

How can a domestic violence protection order help me?

In a temporary ex parte protection order, a judge can:

  • forbid the abuser from contacting you or committing acts of domestic violence against you or any other person;
  • exclude the abuser or anyone with whom the abuser lives from your home, another person’s home (such as your relative), or a domestic violence shelter;
  • award temporary custody or establish temporary visitation rights of minor children you have with the abuser; and
  • order the abuser to hand over any firearms in his/her possession to the authorities and forbid him/her from buying firearms if the judge believes that the abuser is likely to use, display or threaten to use the firearm in further acts of violence.1

A final domestic violence protection order can:

  • forbid any party from threatening, molesting, injuring, harassing, or having contact with any other person;
  • exclude the abuser or anyone with whom the abuser lives from your home, another person’s home (such as your relative), or a domestic violence shelter if necessary to the physical or mental well-being of the you or others;
  • award temporary custody and visitation rights of any minor children in common;
  • recommend or require that you and/or the abuser undergo counseling with a domestic violence program or other organization that provides professional services that the judge thinks is appropriate;
  • award spousal support, child support, and attorney’s fees;
  • award temporary use of personal property, including motor vehicles; and
  • order the abuser to hand over any firearms in his/her possession to the authorities and forbid him/her from buying firearms if the judge believes that the abuser is likely to use, display or threaten to use the firearm in further acts of violence. Note: The abuser can be ordered to surrender the firearm to the sheriff/police in the county/city where the respondent lives by a specific date. If the abuser does not surrender the firearm, s/he can be arrested and the law enforcement officer can take possession of the firearm.2

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

1 N.D. Code § 14-07.1-03(2)
2 N.D. Code § 14-07.1-02(4)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.