Many people in North Dakota who are contemplating ending their marriages wonder about how their property will be distributed by the court. Regardless of whether a couple is well-off or owns only a few assets, the division of marital property can become one of the most problematic issues in a divorce proceeding. While predicting how the court will resolve this issue can be difficult, state law provides useful guidance.
North Dakota courts are required to "equitably distribute" the assets and debts of the couple. An equitable distribution is not necessarily an equal distribution. The court may take into consideration which parent will have custody of the children, the respective abilities of each spouse to earn a living, and similar issues. The property division process begins with the choice of a valuation date; that is the date in which the value of the couple's assets and liabilities will be fixed. If the parties cannot agree on a valuation date, the valuation date will be the earlier of the service of the summons in the action for divorce or the date on which the parties last separated.
Parties in a divorce often make the mistake of attempting to hide assets to prevent them from being awarded to the other party. Such actions are unwise because the court can reopen the property division part of the case and redistribute the property. The redistribution is very likely to be less beneficial to the offending party than the original distribution.
Property distribution can be very complex. Appraisers and accountants are often necessary to provide expert opinions on the issue of value. In a high asset divorce, a capable divorce lawyer is virtually essential to ensure that a party receives maximum equitable value when the property is divided.
Source: legis.nd.gov, §14-05-24, Division of property and debts.," accessed on Dec. 16, 2017