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Where to Find Family Court Records In North Dakota

Family Courts are divisions of District Courts, specially tasked with handling cases related to interpersonal relationships and domestic life in North Dakota. Court officials have the responsibility of keeping accurate records of cases. Interested public members may retrieve these records from their official custodian or through private repositories that are not affiliated with the public agency.

What Is Family Law In North Dakota?

The North Dakota Legislative Branch of government enacts statutes that exist to define how the judiciary resolves disputes between spouses and family members. Generally, family law defines the rights and legal obligations of individuals in a family unit. Also, litigants go to family courts to seek legal authorization or vindicates them in a domestic disagreement.

North Dakota Family Law Title 14 (Domestic Relations) of the North Dakota Century Code holds several laws governing aspects of family legal issues, including:

  • Personal rights
  • Limitation of abortion
  • Marriage contract
  • Annulment of marriage
  • Divorce
  • Domestic violence
  • Civic remedies for child support
  • Paternity acknowledgement

What Are Family Court Cases and Records in North Dakota?

Family court cases are litigations that arise when individuals in a domestic relationship have disputes, and they seek resolution, enforcement, or protection under the law. Meanwhile, when family cases are filed in court, the court’s officials create and maintain records throughout the litigation. These documents include filings, notices, affidavits, attorney briefs, judges’ notes, motions, court transcripts, and statements. These documents are public information and accessible to public members unless sealed by court order or state statute.

Some common family court cases in North Dakota involve:

  • Divorce
  • Abortion
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Modifying child custody or visitation
  • Enforcing parental rights and responsibilities
  • Child support
  • Domestic violence
  • Adoption
  • Family tort

Are Family Court Cases Public Records In North Dakota?

Yes, the North Dakota Open Records Law permits public members to retrieve non-confidential court records from public repositories and custodians. However, if the document of interest contains confidential information, the storage facility or custodian will deny ineligible requesters.

For example, interested individuals may obtain juvenile records and divorce records, but under a court order or statute, the natural custodian will redact confidential information before disseminating it or deny access completely. On the other hand, certain records are not accessible to individuals who are not involved in the case, such as adoption records.

How Do I Find Family Court Records In North Dakota?

The process of accessing or obtaining a family court record in North Dakota begins with identifying the record’s location and natural custodian of that record. In North Dakota, this is often the Clerk of District Court in the county where the case was filed.

The next step is finding out the retrieval methods, requirements, and associated fees for obtaining copies of a record at the courthouse.

Courts typically process in-person requests at the Clerk’s Office during business hours of a workday. General requirements for in-person requests include a written request, photo I. D., and payment in the form of a money order, check, or cash. North Dakota District Courts maintain a fee schedule for associated fees.

More importantly, the requester must be able to provide the necessary information, including filing date, hearing date, case number, docket number, names of individuals on the record or the litigants, and the name of the presiding judge. The more detailed the information provided, the easier it is for the Clerk’s Office to find the specific record that the requester seeks.

Under state laws, the Clerk can only disseminate available records. If a document was not introduced or submitted during a family case, the Clerk could not create one. Furthermore, requests to access sealed family court records will be declined unless the requester presents a court order that grants them access to that specific record. But to obtain a court order, the requester must convince the judge that they have legal interests in the sealed record.

For mail requests, the requester must enclose a written request with the necessary information to facilitate the search and a photo I. D. in a self-addressed stamped envelope. They must also attach a cashier’s check or money order for the applicable fees before the Clerk’s Office will process the request. Generally, the Clerk’s Office charges $0.10 per page for photocopies, $10.00 for certification of a document, and $5.00 for certification of extra copies. To find a family court record in Cass County, visit or send a mail request to:

Cass County Courthouse

211 9th Street South, P. O. Box 2806

Fargo, ND 58108

Phone: (701)451–6900


How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?

Interested requesters may use the North Dakota Courts Records Inquiry system (NDCRI) to find publicly available court records for free. However, the judiciary cautions that information retrieved on the NDCRI are not official records. Individuals who seek certification must contact the local Clerk of Courts. Furthermore, users assume liability for their use or interpretation of the document. To query this database for family court records,

  • Select the county/location of the record
  • Click “Civil, Family & Probate Case Records”

This action will return a page requesting additional information to process the request. The requester may then proceed by providing the information such as the party’s name, filing date, type of case, and case status.

Records that are considered public may also be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching less complicated, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • Information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or where the offense occurred.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What Is North Dakota Custody Law?

North Dakota Custody Law does not use the terms custody or visitation. Instead, having custody is equivalent to having “resident responsibilities,” while visitation is equivalent to “parenting time.” North Dakota Custody Laws seek to establish parenting rights and responsibilities to a minor after a divorce, annulment, or separation.

The family court judge awards custody based on the best interests of the minor. The court considers several factors, including the parent’s fitness, familial affection, the effect of the custody on the child’s education, and all-round growth. Parents can petition the court for a modification of custody with good cause. Furthermore, the court considers a history of domestic violence in granting sole custody to a parent. Victims of domestic violence may also file for a protective order.

North Dakota custody records are confidential information. Only the individuals named on the record and the legal designees may access them. Other requesters must demonstrate legal interests that outweigh the statutory sealing of the record.

How to Find Family Court Lawyers in North Dakota

The State Bar Association of North Dakota offers a Lawyer Referral & Information Service (LRIS). LRIS connects members of the public with family law attorneys near them. Interested individuals may contact an LRIS representative on (866) 450–9579. The service costs $30 and only matches clients with lawyers. It is not a guarantee of service, and the client has the responsibility of setting up a meeting with their matched attorney. On the other hand, Legal Services of North Dakota provides legal aid to qualifying applicants.

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