Uncontested divorce is a popular option for couples who want to end their marriage without spending a lot of money on attorney's fees. It also appeals to people who wish to part ways without unnecessary hostility or anger. Although North Dakota law does not feature any form of an expedited divorce process, an uncontested divorce can proceed relatively quickly if both husband and wife agree on all important points.
Like all states, North Dakota allows people to end their marriage without getting into all the reasons for the divorce. Instead of assigning blame to one side, the parties merely state that they have "irreconcilable differences."
Additionally, the filing party, known as the plaintiff, must have lived in North Dakota for at least six months before filing the complaint.
In North Dakota, the procedure for filing an uncontested divorce follows the same pattern as a contested case. The plaintiff must file a Summons and Complaint and "serve" it on the defendant spouse by providing him or her with a copy of all the papers filed in the case. Once the defendant has been served, the court will set an initial hearing date. Although there is no specific time frame for uncontested divorce in North Dakota, it is possible to wrap up a simple divorce within a couple of months depending on the court's schedule and the parties' ability to compromise quickly.
At this point, an uncontested divorce in North Dakota differs from a contested action. If the parties have agreed on all the outstanding issues in their case, they do not have to appear before the judge. Instead, they can file an Affidavit of Proof for Stipulated Judgment with the court. By "stipulating" to the divorce, the parties acknowledge that they agree on everything. This form of uncontested divorce requires complete agreement from both sides. If there are any lingering questions or disputes over the issues in the case, the couple cannot file a stipulated divorce.
Along with the Stipulation, the parties must also file documents setting forth how they wish to divide their assets and assign parenting time and custody rights. These forms include:
Parties interested in representing themselves can obtain an Affidavit of Proof for Stipulated Judgment form for free from the North Dakota Supreme Court's website. Additionally, individual counties might require other forms regarding health insurance and child support. To find divorce forms online, see North Dakota Supreme Court Self-Represented Divorce Forms
Unless the judge has questions about any of the information or conditions contained in the documents, the parties are not required to attend the hearing. If the judge finds everything in order, the divorce can be granted right away. Once the court approves the stipulated agreement, it becomes a binding, enforceable contract. Because the terms of the agreement cannot be changed once the divorce is final, parties with complex financial issues might require the assistance of a family law attorney or mediator to help them agree on property division and other contentious areas. For people with relatively minimal assets and no children, however, stipulating to an uncontested divorce can save time, money, and frustration.
If you still have questions about the uncontested divorce process or filing for divorce, you can click here to contact a local family law attorney.