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Fargo Family Law Blog

What is a presumption of paternity in North Dakota?

Family law can be exceedingly complex in North Dakota. While most issues that come to the forefront center on divorce, child support, spousal support and other basic considerations, paternity can also be a factor. In some instances, when a couple has a child, there could be a question as to whom the biological father is. Understanding the presumption of paternity is a key part of a case as the biological father and his identity can be critical to determining visitation rights and child support. The mother, the presumed father and a potential father should be aware of this law.

There will be a presumption of paternity: if a man is married to the mother of the child and the child is born when they are married; if the man and the mother were married and the child was born within 300 days of the marriage ending in any way; or if, prior to the child's birth, the mother and the man were married in a way they believed would comply with the law even if the marriage could be rendered invalid within 300 days of the birth.

What if I need a child support modification in North Dakota?

When a couple has a child in North Dakota and divorces, there will be a child support order. In general, the noncustodial parent will pay support to the custodial parent so the child can be properly cared for. The amount in the order will be based on the state's child support guidelines. Earnings are critical when determining how much the support order will be. There are other factors that will be considered in addition to income. Many people might be under the impression that once the order is made, it cannot be changed. That, however, is not the case. A modification is possible if the circumstances warrant it.

The modification will not be done automatically. There must be a court order to make a change just as there was a court order for the original amount. A review will be conducted every 18 months. This is 18 months from the order, the previous review or the previous change. It is done when one of the parents is getting Full Services from state. Exceptions to the rule that it will be done every 18 months include there being zero dollars awarded or if a parent who is ordered to pay begins receiving Supplemental Security Income or other disability after the order. Either parent can ask for a review.

Practical tips for helping kids navigate divorce

Divorce is often most difficult for the youngest members of the family. Naturally, children struggle when their parents spilt up, and you understand the importance of helping them navigate this difficult time of transition. There are steps North Dakota parents can take to ease the mental and emotional stress that a divorce can cause for children.

Even when parents are amicable and resolved to help their children as much as possible, it can still be a difficult time. One of the most important things you and the other parent can do is work for a reasonable and fair custody order. Providing the kids with stability and as much continuity of lifestyle as possible is a practical way to help your kids adjust and move on with their lives.

What constitutes desertion under North Dakota divorce law?

When pursuing a fault-based divorce in North Dakota, there are many reasons why the request will be granted by the court. Some of the basics that most will think about when considering a reason for divorce are adultery and abuse. One that does not get significant attention is desertion. However, it happens quite often and those who are considering a divorce because they believe a spouse has deserted them should know what the law says about how desertion is defined.

If the parties have separated, there are various categories that show desertion has taken place. If a spouse has refused to take part in reasonable marital intercourse when they are healthy enough and physically able to do so, or if there is a refusal to reside in the same home when there is no reason to do so, it will be considered desertion. A party who has been schemed against or defrauded to leave the residence or is absent and while that person is absent, the other spouse leaves intending to desert, it will be desertion. If a spouse departs the residence because of cruelty or due to bodily harm when the other spouse would be apprehended is not desertion by the party who leaves, but the other party.

A high-asset divorce requires experienced legal representation

North Dakota residents who are of modest means might think people who have significant assets are happier and do not face the same challenges others do. This is not an accurate portrayal. Everyone has problems in their life and that can extend to a dispute with a spouse that ultimately leads to a divorce. All divorces are different, but it is important for those having a high asset divorce that they understand there is a great deal at stake in terms of property, assets and perhaps a business. Before making decisions that could cause regret later, it is imperative to have legal advice from the start.

Any divorce will have its emotional component. That can be exacerbated if the issues in the marriage go beyond child custody, child support and alimony and extend to which party will get what when there are hefty assets in the marriage. Once the decision is made to part ways, there will likely be concern over who will get and keep what from the marriage. Also at issue is how much the support the spouse who is the higher earner will pay to the other spouse.

No prenup? How to protect your business interests in a divorce

In order to succeed in the world of entrepreneurship, you had to put in significant hours of work. Your years of personal sacrifice and financial investment may be finally paying off, and your business may be enjoying growth and success. However, a divorce may threaten your North Dakota small business, and you understand how important it is to protect your company's financial interests at this time.

Many business owners find great benefit in drafting a prenuptial agreement. This document can allow you to decide how to handle the division of marital property in the event of a divorce, which can help you avoid contentious legal battles over business assets. However, if you do not have a prenuptial agreement, how can you shield your business in the event of a divorce?

Who must consent for a child to be adopted in North Dakota?

For prospective North Dakota parents who would like to expand their family by adopting a child, it is a worthwhile and positive endeavor. There are many children who are looking for a home and adoption provides mutual benefit for adoptive parent and adopted child. However, it is important to understand that the law is vigilant about protecting children and has certain requirements before a person can adopt.

Knowing these requirements is important before even starting the process so all the issues can be hashed out and the process is not delayed or denied. There are circumstances where consent is not needed from a parent such as when the parent deserted a child or the child was in another's custody and the parent did not communicate with the child or did not give the child care and support based on the law.

Can there be a custody investigation during a custody dispute?

In a child custody proceeding, while it is preferable for all North Dakota parties - including the child - that the case go smoothly and the best interests of the child take precedence, it is unavoidable that there will be disagreements that cannot be settled through negotiation. When there is this level of child custody dispute and one or both parties want an investigation and report as to parental rights and responsibilities, the courts can order that this be done. Understanding the law for custody investigations and reports and what it entails is imperative for the party that requests it and the other party.

The court will name a person or agency to investigate the case and make the report. It will name an entity it deems qualified to move forward with it. Once the investigator is named, it is possible to consult with anyone who might have pertinent information regarding the child and any arrangements regarding parenting rights and responsibilities. This individual, upon court order, can refer the child to a professional for an examination and diagnosis.

What are your child custody options?

Divorce is difficult. Divorce with children is even more so. You want to do what is best for your kids, but you and your soon-to-be ex may not agree on what that is. There are several different child custody options open to North Dakota residents. You and your spouse can try to negotiate a custody arrangement based on these options or a judge can decide how your custody plan will work.

So, what are the available custody options? There are five: sole legal custody, joint legal custody, sole physical custody, joint physical custody and visitation. How is each of these different?

When does a paternity action matter?

Most North Dakota fathers are involved, supportive and loving participants in the lives of their children. Divorce and other circumstances can make it difficult for fathers to maintain their roles in the lives of their kids, and often, they feel helpless and unsure of the legal options available. Fathers have the right to fight for their parental rights and access to their kids. 

In some cases, a paternity action may be necessary in order to clearly establish the role of a father in the lives of his children. If you were not married to the mother when your children were born or the mother disputes that you are the biological father, you may need to take legal action. Taking specific legal steps may be the only way for you to secure visitation and possibly custody rights.

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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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