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Fargo Family Law Blog

Considering parental relocation in custody agreement negotiations

When working through a painful divorce, it is always easiest to only consider what is in the foreseeable future. Parties involved in custody negotiations are usually searching for the quickest means of settlement in order to allow everyone to move on and begin the healing process. However, failing to consider potential issues that may arise further down the road, such as parental relocation, can become major issues that affect the entire family all over again.

If one parent believes there is even a remote chance of relocation in the near or distant future, it would benefit all involved for him or her to speak up during initial custody discussion. There are several reasons why taking such action may be necessary. First, arranging travel for a minor child who needs to be accompanied is no small task. Parents must not only be able to effectively communicate and work together but must also maintain communication with airlines and flight personnel to ensure the child's safety. The TSA has strict rules regarding unaccompanied minor travels.

North Dakota grandparents can be awarded visitation rights

Even with sky high divorce rates across the country, grandparents' rights are often overlooked and frequently are not taken into consideration within custody negotiations. The same lack of attention may be prevalent in a situation where one parent dies, and the remaining parent refuses contact between the child and his or her grandparents. While the state of North Dakota has laws in place to prevent grandparents from being alienated from grandchildren, the decision is not made on grandparents' wishes alone. There are other factors a court must take into consideration when determining whether grandparent visitation is appropriate.

For example, the court will take a close look at the past personal contact between the grandparents and the child to determine whether it is positive relationship. The same will be considered regarding the relationship between the child's parents and the grandparents. North Dakota family courts must presume that a child's parent is considering the child's best interests when making visitation allowances or disallowances. If grandparents disagree with that decision, then the burden of proof falls on them to show that visitation should be allowed and would be beneficial to the child.

Preparing for an adoption home study

You have longed for children, but something has prevented you from having any of your own. You have likely given thoughtful consideration to the possibility of welcoming a child through adoption. Adoption allows you to provide a loving home for a child while filling your own heart with joy.

The adoption process is necessarily complicated. It is essential that adoption agencies carefully screen applicants to avoid placing a child in a home where he or she would suffer harm. While your reason tells you this is not personal, it may feel very personal when adoption agents schedule a visit—or series of visits—to your home. Knowing what to expect may alleviate some of the stress these visits can bring.

What does 'equitable distribution' mean?

If you have started researching for your upcoming divorce, you might have come across the phrase "equitable distribution." This term refers to the legal requirements involved for dividing property at the end of a marriage under North Dakota law.

Essentially, equitable in this context means "fair." Rather than simply listing all the marital property and dividing it 50/50, when it comes to property division North Dakota courts try to determine what is fair.

Raising a child after a divorce

Every North Dakota parent will attest to the challenges of raising children, and every divorced North Dakota parent will attest to the greatly increased effort required to raise a child after a divorce. The topic itself is far larger than any single blog post can encompass, but knowing where to turn for help can significantly reduce the burden for both parents.

North Dakota lawmakers have made the legislative decision that every child fares better if both parents are involved in a permanent and continuing relationship with the child. State law requires each divorcing couple to prepare a joint parenting plan for approval by the court. If a contentious relationship prevents the parents from drafting such a plan, the court will order a plan based upon the statutory language that enumerates the factors that affect the best interests of the child.

Negotiating a parenting plan provides a unique opportunity

Just like every parent throughout the country, North Dakota parents often go through their daily lives on autopilot. During this time, they may find themselves at odds when it comes to disciplining the children, but they never quite get the time to sit down and discuss it in order to get on the same page.

When parents divorce, they gain a unique opportunity to talk about this important issue. If the negotiations go well, they could come to a consensus regarding how to discipline the children, which could help in their post-divorce co-parenting. The more consistent parents are across both households, the better off everyone will be. The children will know what to expect and they won't see either parent as "the bad guy," which could cause unnecessary confrontations.

Obtaining your fair share of marital assets

If you and your spouse are preparing for divorce, you may be especially concerned about your post-divorce finances. Perhaps you have done a rough calculation of your total assets and wonder how you will ever survive on half of that.

However, your situation may not be as bad as you think. For one thing, you may not be including all the assets a court will consider during property division. Another factor to remember is that North Dakota is an equitable division state. This means you and your spouse will divide your assets fairly, and that does not always mean 50-50.

Changing a North Dakota divorce judgment after it is entered

The road to divorce in North Dakota is never smooth or free from unexpected bumps. However, even the bumpiest road can produce a divorce decree that fairly resolves all issues between the parties, including spousal maintenance, property division and, if necessary child support and custody. Some divorces, however, end badly, with one or both ex-spouses feeling that the court did not understand their arguments or hear their evidence. What can be done?

The first option is appealing the judgment to the North Dakota Supreme Court. This option is generally the most expensive. Another factor to consider is the fact that oftentimes appeals from divorce judgments fail. The Supreme Court is very unlikely to find that the there was an error in the judge's decision that warrants a reversal.

Review and adjustment of child support orders in North Dakota

Most child support orders in North Dakota are based upon the financial situation and income of the payor spouse. Contrary to the expectation of many parents, the court's order for child support is not immutable. If the financial conditions of the payor spouse change, the terms of the child support may also change.

The North Dakota Department of Human Services, through its Child Support Agency, will generally review child support orders every 18 months after the order has been entered. Either parent may submit a request for review. Parents who share custody must complete and submit a Financial Affidavit and Contact Information form to Child Support Services at the same time as the request for review is submitted.

Discussing your child's request to move in with your ex

When your teen or pre-teen recently approached you with the request to move in with your ex, you may have felt shocked, perhaps even betrayed. After all, you have worked so hard to maintain as stable a home life as possible since the divorce, and now your child wants to leave.

While it may seem like a devastating blow, it is probably something you have expected, if you are honest with yourself. The way you handle this situation could be a turning point in your relationship with your child.

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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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