Understanding and Calculating Alimony in North Dakota

Find out how alimony (spousal support) is awarded and calculated in North Dakota.

Alimony is a regular payment one spouse makes to the other spouse to provide financial support during and/or after a divorce. In North Dakota, alimony is also called “spousal support.” The spouses may agree to the amount and duration of spousal support, or the court may order it if the spouses can’t agree.

Types of Alimony

Under North Dakota law, there are different types of spousal support a court may order, including:

  • "Temporary spousal support" is support paid after the divorce action is filed, but before there is a final divorce decree.
  • “Rehabilitative spousal support" is awarded to give a spouse the time and resources needed to attend school or training or to build work skills and experience that will allow the spouse to become self-supporting.
  • “Permanent” spousal support is ordered at the time of the final divorce decree in order to provide long-term support to a spouse who does not have the ability to become self-supporting.

Calculating Alimony

In North Dakota, there are no set guideline calculations or formulas for the court to follow when deciding whether to award alimony or the amount, manner, and duration of payments. The law simply requires courts to consider the circumstances of each spouse in deciding whether to order spousal support. The court will consider several factors, including:

  • the income and earning abilities of each spouse
  • the age and physical, mental and emotional health of the spouses
  • the length of the marriage
  • the conduct of the spouses during the marriage
  • the needs of each spouse and the ability of the supporting spouse to pay, and
  • the financial circumstance of each spouse based on the property owned, the value of the property, whether it is income-producing property, and whether the property was acquired before or during marriage.

Duration of Alimony

Temporary spousal support orders last only while the divorce action is pending. They end when the court makes the final divorce decree.

Rehabilitative support orders last for the amount of time it takes the spouse to gain the education or experience needed to become self-supporting.


Permanent spousal support orders can be short- or long-term, depending on what the court finds to be reasonable after weighing the foregoing factors.

Modification of Alimony

The court can modify (change) a spousal support order upon the request of either spouse. The spouse seeking the modification must show that the circumstances of either spouse has changed in such a way as to justify an adjustment in the amount of support. For example, if the paying spouse suffers an involuntary decrease in income, this may support a reduction in spousal support.

Taxes

In general, the spouse paying support can deduct the payments from income. For the spouse receiving support, the payments count as income and are taxable.

Sources

The spousal support laws in North Dakota are found in Title 14, sections 14-05-23 and 14-05-24.1 of the North Dakota Century Code. You can read the law by clicking here.

There are also many published court decisions regarding alimony, including:
Peterson v. Peterson, 2010 ND 165
Nuveen v. Nuveen, 2011 ND 44
Schulte v. Kramer, 2012 ND 163

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