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How are Divorce Records Generated in North Dakota?

North Dakota divorce records are court documents that contain details of a divorce case. They can also be referred to as vital records such as marriage, birth and death records. Some examples of information included in a divorce record include; the date the divorce was filed, child custody, financial responsibilities, and division of assets and debts. There are 4.7 divorces per 1,000 women above 15 years old in North Dakota.

A no-fault divorce is permitted in North Dakota which means that a couple may be granted a divorce based on ‘irreconcilable differences’. Therefore both parties do not necessarily have to specify a tangible reason why they want to file a divorce. There are also fault-based divorce grounds in North Dakota which include;

  • Severe cruelty
  • Willful abandonment
  • Adultery
  • Felony conviction
  • Conscious neglect
  • Alcohol and/or regulated substance abuse

In North Dakota, a marriage may end in any of the following ways;

  • Legal separation
  • Annulment
  • Divorce (Dissolution of marriage)

Legal separation and divorce are quite similar, being that they both follow similar procedures. Although in legal separation the separated couple cannot get married to other people, divorce allows both parties to remarry if they wish. In both cases, the court decides child custody (if there are any children) and also divides marital property and debts. Annulment on the other hand is a legal proceeding which involves the court declaring that a marriage never happened. The court may declare a marriage null and void if any of the parties involved is underaged or if the marriage consent was not willfully given.

After divorce hearings are concluded the judge will sign the final order for judgment which indicates the date the marriage ends. This is the final stage of the divorce process. The record of the final order is filed with the office of the Clerk of Court or the court’s records management office in the county where divorce was granted. From the day the divorce case is filed in court, it normally takes 30 to 90 days for the divorce to be finalized.

Are Divorce Records Public in North Dakota?

North Dakota divorce records are classified as public records and as such, they are open to public access and can be obtained by the public as defined under the state’s Open Records Statute. Divorce proceedings are recorded by the court during hearings. These records are organized and documented together with other court records. Divorce case information just as like other court case information may be accessed.

However, divorce records that are sealed by court order may not be available to the public. Interested persons may obtain copies of a divorce record from the court in the county where the divorce was granted.

What are the types of Divorce Records available in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, the divorce records available are divorce decrees and divorce certificates. These two records contain some information on the divorce case.

A divorce decree is a certified court document that embodies the final order signed by a judge ending a marriage. It provides a detailed summary of the decree of the judge, which may include the division of assets, child custody, alimony, child support, and financial responsibilities. A divorce decree is maintained by the Clerk of Court in the county where divorce was filed. It may be obtained by the separated couple and the attorneys involved in the divorce process.

A divorce certificate can pass as an informational copy because it doesn’t contain details on divorce proceedings and the decree of the judge regarding a divorce case. It is a face sheet of the divorce action that provides restricted information such as the names of the divorcees, filing date, the county where the divorce was filed, and the court case number.

A divorce record may be a certified copy or an informational copy. The certified copy can only be obtained by the actual parties that filed for the divorce and other authorized individuals. On the other hand, the informational copy is accessible to the general public, but it does not contain detailed information on the divorce case.

How Do I Get Divorce Records in North Dakota?

Generally, copies of divorce records are only available in the county court where divorce was granted or in the custody of the Court Clerk or recorder. The process for obtaining divorce records in North Dakota varies from county to county. Most county courts require the submission of a written request addressed to the County Court Clerk. Eligible persons may obtain divorce records through any of the following ways;

  • Submission of a request by mail to the Office of the Clerk of the Court or the court’s records management office.
  • In-person request at the county courthouse, where the divorce was granted.
  • View electronic version of available divorce records at the public access terminal at the courthouse where the divorce was finalized.

The payment of $10 fee is obligatory when requesting to obtain divorce records in North Dakota. The fee may vary depending on the number of copies requested, the request process and the type of record of interest (certified or informational). Payment may be made by money order or check if it is a mail-in request. A mail-in request is to be sent in a self-addressed stamped envelope alongside a request form or letter.

The 'Select County' directory on the State of North Dakota Courts website provides the exact location and contact address of all county courthouses in the state, including the regular court hours and names of the Clerk of Court. For more information, call 701–857–6600.

Interested persons may be required to provide the following information when requesting for divorce records;

  • Name of Husband on the record
  • Maiden name of Wife on the record
  • The date the divorce was finalized
  • The date the divorce was filed
  • County court where the divorce was granted
  • Divorce Certificate number

While divorce and marriage records may be searched through government sources and organizations, the availability of these documents cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these entities are not government-sponsored therefore record availability may vary further. Also note that marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information the records contain, and are often sealed. Hence, bearing in mind that these factors determine the availability of any type of marriage or divorce record.

Who Can Obtain Divorce Records in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, the law allows the members of the public to obtain divorce records that do not contain confidential or private information. This type of records are classified as Informational copies and can be obtained by anyone. Certified copies on the other hand, contains details of the divorce and the parties involved. Hence, they can only be obtained by;

  • The parties to the divorce case
  • The defense attorneys involved in the case.

Are North Dakota Divorce Records Available Online?

North Dakota does not have a central portal where interested persons may request for divorce records online. Instead, the divorce records are maintained by the Clerk of Court or records management office in each county. Requests can only be made at the county court where divorce was granted, either in person or by mail.

The Clerk of Court provides both informational and certified copies of divorce records, depending on the request made.

Some populous states provide access to records online in order to make the process less tedious.

How Do I Seal My Divorce Records in North Dakota?

The process of sealing divorce records in North Dakota is quite straightforward. However, both parties must first reach an agreement to have the record sealed. In addition to this, they will also need to provide the court with convincing reasons why the judge should order for the sealing of the divorce records.

A petition will be submitted by the couple at the court where divorce proceedings took place. Just like other court hearings, the service of a legal solicit may be required. In North Dakota, it is not enough to seek the agreement of the other partner in order to have the record sealed, the judge also has to be convinced that sealing the divorce record is completely essential.

The judge may grant the sealing of divorce records if the couple is able to prove that not sealing the records poses a potential risk to the reputation, children, financial stability or career of both parties.

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