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Fargo Family Law Blog

How does spousal fault affect a North Dakota divorce?

North Dakota, like most states, allows a person to seek a divorce without proving that the other spouse was in any way at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Such divorces are usually called "no fault" divorces, and they are based on a showing that the couple has irreconcilable differences that warrant a divorce.

North Dakota also has six other classes of divorce that may affect the award of spousal alimony. The six classes are adultery, extreme cruelty, willful desertion, willful neglect, abuse of alcohol or controlled substances, and conviction of a felony.

Dad arrested after 20 years, owing $560,000 in child support

North Dakota's proximity to Canada may tempt those owing child support in the state to cross the border in the hopes of avoiding payment. The recent arrest of a United States citizen who had lived in Calgary for 20 years and failed to pay $560,000 in child support may serve as an important object lesson for anyone considering moving to Canada to escape making these payments.

The man was ordered to pay $100 per month for his four children when he was divorced from their mother in 1989. The amount was eventually lowered to $14 after he claimed to be unemployed and medically disabled. In 1996, a United States court received evidence that the man had sold a successful internet company for $2 million. The support order was modified accordingly, but the man stopped paying support entirely in 1996. A warrant for his arrest was issued in 1998.

Will a shared home arrangement be best for your kids in divorce?

Like most good parents in North Dakota, when you decided to divorce, you determined to do whatever was necessary to help keep your children's stress levels as low as possible in the process. Your children's best interests are understandably your highest priority, and although you are eager to move forward to your new lifestyle, you also want to make sure your children receive all the love and support they need to help them in their own transitions.

Your kids may have mentioned right off the bat that they don't want to move to a new home. They like their current neighborhood and have well-established friendships in the area. Do you know there are support resources available that may help you meet their requests to stay put? A rising trend known as bird nesting has recently been featured in news headlines when Hollywood stars, such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced they were giving their own version of the process a try.

New tax law eliminates deduction for alimony

The sweeping federal tax bill that was signed into law just before the end of 2017 will affect many aspects of life for North Dakotans. One of the most talked-about provisions is the change in the tax treatment of spousal support payments.

Under the current law, the ex-spouse who pays alimony may deduct such payments from gross income, thereby reducing their taxable income. The ex-spouse who receives such payments must include the payments in their adjusted gross income before calculating the resulting tax. According to tax law experts, this provision generally means that the spouse with higher income winds up paying alimony, while the spouse with fewer assets generally winds up as the recipient. This set up preserves more overall income that can be allocated between the divorcing spouses to assist them in living separately.

Wonder if collaborative divorce will work for you? Let's find out

Gwyneth Paltrow's "conscious uncoupling" may not be a real thing, but she had the right idea. She and her former spouse, Chris Martin, decided to work together to reach a mutually satisfactory settlement and remain amicable for the sake of the children.

This is the eventual goal of collaborative divorce as well. Many people use its name interchangeably with mediation, but the collaborative process differs from mediation in some significant ways.

Understanding premarital agreements

For North Dakota couples who have made the all-important decision to get married, the idea of signing a contract addressing issues that commonly arise only when a couple wants to end the marriage seems counter-intuitive, and even somewhat destructive. Nevertheless, understanding the how's and why's of premarital agreements can go a long way toward eliminating the concerns of one or both spouses about financial issues that, if left unresolved, can be the precipitating cause of a divorce.

Under North Dakota law, a premarital agreement is a written contract between two people who intend to get married. Prenuptial agreements typically specify how certain assets will be distributed in the event of a divorce. If one spouse enters the marriage with significantly greater assets, the premarital agreement may specify how such assets will be distributed. A premarital agreement may require that one spouse waive their right to any assets owned by the other.

Protecting your rightful parenting time with your kids

When facing divorce, North Dakota parents are rightfully concerned with the well-being of their children. These concerns do not stop simply because the divorce is final. In fact, you may continue to have concerns about your kids and your custody order well into the future. One of your concerns may relate to the possibility of parenting time interference.

Parental time interference occurs when one parent intentionally undermines the rights of the other parent. This can happen by preventing the child from seeing or communicating with his or her other parent. There are many ways this can occur, and if you think it happened to you, you would be smart to take quick action to protect your rights and your role as an active and loving parent.

Determining child support in a North Dakota divorce

One of the most difficult questions in a divorce in North Dakota is the determination of child support. The legislature has established general rules for determining child support, and the Department of Human Services has published detailed guidelines that specify the type of information that must be submitted by the divorcing parents. New guidelines became effective on January 1, 2018. These requirements are too numerous and too detailed for a blog post, but an overview may be helpful to those wondering about divorce and child support.

The legislature has directed the department of human services to establish child support guidelines to assist the courts in setting the amount that the paying parent must pay as support for minor children of the marriage. The legislative prescriptions are vague. For example, the department is directed to "authorize an expense deduction for determining net income" and "designate other available resources to be considered." These guidelines offer no concrete guidance to divorcing parents. Instead, a person wondering how child support is calculated in their specific case must consult the guidelines promulgated by the department of human services.

What is meant by "best interests and welfare of the child?"

In any North Dakota divorce involving minor children, the concept of "best interests and welfare of the child" is likely to affect decisions, such as child custody, child support and visitation by the non-custodial spouse. While most people can express an intuitive idea of the meaning of this phrase, very few can list the specific factors found in the state's divorce statutes. In determining parental rights and responsibilities, the court is given discretion to consider and evaluate "all factors affecting the best interests and welfare of the child." The list of factors is long, and it cannot be fitted into the space of this post. Nevertheless, a summary list can be helpful in understanding the court's approach to these issues.

Number one is the "love, affection and other emotional ties" between a child and the parents. This refers to the respective ability of each parent to meet the child's need for love and emotional support both at the time of the divorce and in the future. The ability of each parent to provide food, clothing, medical care and shelter is also a critical consideration. The stability of each parent's home environment is also closely examined. Two difficult factors are the moral fitness of each parent and the mental and physical health of each parent. The court must evaluate how each of these factors will affect the child.

Everything said about divorce is not true

You are the only one who can decide if filing for divorce is the most viable option in your current marital situation. If you conduct a survey asking people to state facts they know about divorce, you might discover that much of what some people think is fact is actually fiction. If you plan to navigate the civil justice system, you'll want to learn the difference between divorce myths and valid data that can help you make informed decisions.

One of the biggest myths in North Dakota and throughout the nation is that divorces only occur if people don't try hard enough to save their marriages. You may have worn yourself ragged trying to resolve your marital problems, but that doesn't mean efforts always produce successful results. Some people find themselves in situations where the damage is irreparable. That does not necessarily mean they didn't try to make things work. Arming yourself with correct information and knowing where to find support when you need it is half the ballgame.


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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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