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Fargo Family Law Blog

How do you establish paternity in North Dakota?

Your baby's about to be born, and you're concerned about the fact that you and the mother aren't married. You know that you need to establish your legal paternity to protect your rights -- and your child.

There are a few different ways that you can go about it:

How to make a child custody exchange safely

You may share custody of your children with your ex, but that doesn't mean that you and your ex are on good terms. Maybe your ex is angry that you've moved on and have a new romantic interest. Maybe they simply don't like the current custody and visitation schedule and blame you for the limitations. Maybe they're just still angry over whatever brought the relationship to an end.

Those situations can make every custody exchange with your child's other parent both incredibly tense and potentially volatile. You naturally want to keep exchanges as peaceful as possible, but you simply aren't sure how. Here are some suggestions:

Is sole custody best for your child?

If you and your child's other parent have decided to split, you likely have many questions and concerns about the future. Most pressing may be the worries about how the split will affect your child. Your desire may be to provide the most stable and stress-free environment possible following the breakup, but does this mean seeking sole custody of the child?

Custody, or parenting time, typically refers to the time when the child is physically with you. Often, parents can work out a fair arrangement on their own, but sometimes they ask the court to intervene. While you may agree that your ex should have a generous amount of access to the child, you may wonder if it is best for the child if you petition for primary physical custody.

Keeping control of your finances before and during divorce is key

Divorce is going to bring significant financial changes to your life. You know that you will have to make certain spending and lifestyle adjustments, and there are certain things you can do now to prepare for what is ahead. One of these things is to go ahead and take control of your finances.

By taking control now, you will be able to avoid some of the stress and complications that come with a divorce. You can bounce back and recover some of your lost financial standing, but it is in your interests to start thinking through how to do that now. This is especially important for you if you did not have to a direct hands-on role with your finances during your marriage.

Can the noncustodial parent challenge a child support increase?

Meeting the financial needs of children after divorce is challenging for both parents. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to modify the terms of a child support agreement to make certain children have everything they need to thrive.

In North Dakota and other states, either parent may petition a court to increase the amount of financial support a child receives. Typically, the parent making the request must submit the proper form or make the request in writing.

The real reasons people get divorced

When people think about divorce, they often assume that it stems from someone being unfaithful. It's a natural assumption, often because of how common this is in media: Movies, songs, TV shows, novels, etc.

It does happen in real life, of course, but it's hardly the main reason for divorce. The actual reasons look like this:

  • Getting married because of outside pressure or expectations from others.
  • Feeling like the marriage took away your individual identity.
  • Not working toward the same goals as your spouse.
  • Losing the romance and intimacy that existed before the marriage.
  • Having expectations for the marriage that the marriage fails to meet.
  • Running into financial troubles, such as excessive debt.
  • Having vastly different interests and focusing on different priorities.
  • Not knowing how to work through conflicts and disagreements.

Was I deserted and is it sufficient cause for divorce?

For North Dakota couples who are experiencing marital issues and a dispute-laden situation, it is important to understand the options when considering a divorce. In the state, people can file for both a fault and a no-fault divorce. When considering a fault-based divorce, there are certain actions and circumstances to justify it. One is desertion. Knowing when and if desertion has taken place is a foundational part of filing for divorce because of it.

If one party voluntarily separates from the other, there are certain aspects that will categorize it as desertion. A persistent denial of sex when there is no health issue making it necessary, or if either spouse refuses to live in the same domicile when there is no just cause to do so, will be considered desertion. If one person leaves the dwelling or is absent because of fraud or a scheme from the other party and, while the absence is ongoing, the person who has committed fraud leaves intending to desert, that person is committing desertion.

What factors are considered with equitable property division?

In a North Dakota divorce, it is common for there to be issues in dispute. Often, this centers around spousal support and child support. One factor that frequently arises at the end of a marriage, however, is property division. This can include the marital home, motor vehicles, a business, items of sentimental value, collectibles, retirement accounts, bank accounts, and more. With these concerns, having legal assistance might be important.

People should understand the factors that are considered with equitable distribution of property. The following will be analyzed as part of the proceeding: how old the spouses are; what their earning ability is based on education and experience; how long the marriage lasted and how the spouses behaved while they were married; their station in life; what the situation is and the needs of each of the spouses; what their health and physical situation is at the time of the divorce; and the financial circumstances with the property at the time of the divorce.

Christmas is often followed by a spike in divorce filings

The end of the year can be a particularly trying time for already strained relationships. There are presents to buy, parties to attend and family to see. Often, the stress and obligations of the holiday season can stretch a marriage well past the breaking point. This may be one reason why there is a spike in divorce filings after the first of the year. 

If you are thinking about moving forward with divorce, it is probably not simply because it's Christmas. It is likely there are many issues that led up to this point, and the holidays simply brought many of those problems to light. Regardless of when you plan to file or the things that brought you to this point, now is the time to start taking steps to protect your interests and start preparing for the divorce process.

What are the paying parent's duties in a child support review?

After a North Dakota divorce, people might make the mistake of thinking that the case is settled and they need to do nothing more than adhere to the terms of the agreement or court decision.

However, there are certain aspects of a family law case that will be ongoing. For example, there will be periodic reviews of a child support order. A paying parent, the obligor, is required to do certain things as part of this review.


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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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