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Fargo Family Law Blog

What happens if I don't pay child support?

Failure to pay child support in North Dakota will result in being held in contempt of court. Consequences for this include jail time, fines, license suspension and a court order to engage in work activities. Those who willingly fail to pay child support in North Dakota may be prosecuted for criminal nonpayment and receive maximum penalties of five years' imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

North Dakota is one of several states that publish a list of obligors found in contempt of court. The list contains the obligor's name, city and state in which they reside and the amount of past-due child support that they owe. There is also a separate list of obligors found guilty of criminal nonpayment; both lists are available on the North Dakota Department of Human Services website.

Are you staying in your unhappy marriage because of the kids?

Some days, you think you can make it work, but other days, you just want it over with. This is common for many who are considering ending their marriages, especially if they have children. Like many going through this struggle, you are likely wrestling with feelings of failure and concern about your future. You may also have worries about how a divorce will affect your children.

It may sound cliche to stay married for the sake of the kids, but it's a debate many North Dakota parents have. Perhaps you were a child of divorce or you know people who struggled throughout their adulthoods because of the circumstances surrounding their parents' breakups. You certainly don't want your own children to go through any more trauma than they already have, but how do you know if staying in your marriage is doing more harm than good?

North Dakota Heart Gallery helps children in need of adoption

The North Dakota Heart Gallery was promoting National Adoption Day on November 18. The NDHG is a non-profit, privately-funded organization that encourages the adoption of children throughout North Dakota. The organization travels to events and exhibitions across the state and features professional photographs of children in need of adoptive parents on its website.

The NDHG recently held a gala and carnival called, "One Hope Many Hearts," during which children's professional photographs, designed to showcase their personality and spirit, were revealed and the organization's varied donors were honored. Since the NDHG's founding in 2008, 224 children have been positively impacted by the organization.

Digital divorce trials taking place in the UK

Traditionally, couples seeking divorce in the United States must fill out paperwork including a Petition for Divorce, which they must file with the county court. They must bring in the paperwork, pay the filing fee and have it date-stamped by the clerk. The current system in the United Kingdom similarly requires those seeking divorce to send completed forms to a court for consideration. However, a digital divorce scheme, which is now being tested in the UK, provides an alternative to this method of divorce.

The pilot scheme was implemented earlier this year, allowing people who met certain requirements to complete parts of the divorce process online. The Ministry of Justice reported that it would be trialed at the East Midlands Regional Divorce Centre in Nottingham. Now, the scheme will allow people to carry out their entire divorce digitally and will be extended to other centers in the upcoming months.

The business of protecting your small business during a divorce

If you own a small business in North Dakota, you know how difficult it can be to start and maintain a successful entrepreneurial venture. The end of your marriage can be a threat to all of your hard work, and you may be wondering how you can protect your small business assets during this difficult time.

Divorce is hard, but that does not mean that you have to give up your small business. While every divorce requires the division of all marital property, there are things that you can do to shield your business from a significant setback. It is possible to emerge from your divorce and move on toward a prosperous and successful future.

Is your ex's addiction endangering your children?

Substance abuse issues are destroying families in North Dakota and across the country. With opioid and heroin epidemics raging in all corners of the nation, not to mention the prevalence of alcohol abuse, parents are finding themselves dealing with spouses who can no longer fulfill their responsibilities to the family. This leads to painful divorce and custody issues.

Of course, each circumstance is unique, and each family has its special concerns. If your ex- or soon-to-be ex-spouse is struggling with addiction, you may be torn over the best way to manage what may be a potentially volatile situation. So, how do the courts deal with a parent who has a substance abuse problem?

Rapist denied custody and parental rights

A judge recently vacated an order that gave custody and parental rights to a man convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl. The judge who signed the order claims he was not aware at the time he signed the consent agreement that the child was conceived through rape. Once he had such knowledge, he vacated the order. A local prosecutor released a statement in which he apologized for the way the case was handled.

Approximately 100 people gathered at the courthouse for a victim's rights rally to protest the decision. The rape victim said that she was kidnapped and raped by the father of her child and was told she would be killed if she told anybody about what happened. The father denies raping or threatening the victim and maintains that they had a consensual sexual relationship.

Assistance in filing child custody relocation requests

Whether child custody relocation is permissible depends upon the state in which the child custody case was initially decided. Some states, including Minnesota and North Dakota, will allow relocation if the parents have an agreement in place that contains express consent and a proposed visitation schedule.

Absent an agreement, courts in both Minnesota and North Dakota will consider the best interests of the child when determining whether to grant relocation requests. They will also consider the reasons for relocation, such as remarriage, a job opportunity or an educational opportunity. Applicable state laws also vary depending on whether the proposed move is in state, out of state and how far away the requesting parent is seeking to move. The parent requesting relocation must be able to show that the move would be in the best interests of the child.

Study shows benefits of shared custody for children of divorce

A recent study conducted by a professor of adolescent and educational psychology at Wake Forest University emphasizes the benefits of shared custody for children of divorce. The study's author intended to determine to what extent less conflict and cooperative co-parenting benefits children. She found that having a quality relationship with each parent has the most positive effect on children and that children benefit from a quality relationship with each parent, even if the parents do not have a cooperative, co-parenting relationship.

The study, published in Psychology, Public Policy and Law, a journal of the American Psychological Association, supports the notion that while conflict matters, the quality of children's relationships with their parents matters more. The study's author believes that divorcing spouses should not assume that joint custody is not a viable option simply because they have a conflict-filled relationship. Rather, parents should keep the best interests of their children in mind by developing ways to strengthen the children's relationship with each parent and reduce their exposure to conflict.

Child support plan no longer working well for you?

You love your children and want what's best for them; that's a given seeing as most North Dakota parents feel this way. However, since your divorce, you gone through many changes, including having to switch jobs and relocate. At first, everything may have been going according to plan with regard to your child custody and support agreements, but circumstances have changed and you think a modification of your existing court order needs to happen. To that end, you may wonder: What do you have to do to secure lower child support payments?

Submitting a request for lower child support payments does not in any way suggest a lack of care or commitment regarding your children's well-being. It merely shows that you are human and that life changes, and sometimes court orders need to change as well. You may only be in need of a temporary change and have every intention on raising your payments again down the line once you get back on track, financially, or you may need to ask the court for a permanent change.

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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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