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How to Find a Divorce Record in North Dakota

North Dakota divorce records describe all official documents which provide information about marriages that have been dissolved in the state’s courts. These records include vital records and case files which provide information about family court judgements about the dissolution of marriages. The three main types of divorce documents are divorce records, divorce decrees, and divorce certificates.

Divorce records are considered court records. They may therefore be searched on third-party public record websites. Divorce records can offer personal information on minors, finances, and sensitive criminal information like domestic abuse. Because of this, divorce record, certificate, and decree availability is usually much lower than other types of public records because of the personal nature of divorces. Simply put, divorce records are significantly harder to obtain and search for than other types of public records.

  • What is a North Dakota Divorce Certificate?

    A divorce certificate is a vital document usually issued by a state’s Department of Health, to establish the termination of a marriage. It contains some of the information provided by the divorce’s final court judgement. A typical divorce certificate will include the following information:

    • Names of the couple who obtained the divorce
    • Where the divorce was granted
    • When the divorce judgment was issued
    • Court case number
  • What is a North Dakota Divorce Decree?

    A North Dakota divorce decree is a court document issued at the conclusion of a divorce proceeding in the state. It is the final enforceable order by the court which officially terminates the marriage. It details the settlement agreed by all parties and gives a clear picture of each party’s post-marriage responsibilities. Divorce decrees will contain details of the following post-marital agreements:

    • Alimony payments
    • Division of assets
    • Custody of underaged children
    • Visitation rights & schedules
    • Child support payments

    A North Dakota divorce decree is maintained by the County Court Clerk or Recorder in the county in which the divorce was decreed. Both parties to the divorce will receive a copy of the divorce decree after the divorce has been finalized.

  • What is a North Dakota Divorce Record?

    A North Dakota divorce record is the complete collection of information about a marriage dissolution finalized in the state. The information contained in a divorce record will include all information contained in a divorce certificate and a divorce decree in addition to all other documents produced during the court case.

Are Divorce Records Available to the Public in North Dakota?

Divorce records are mostly public records in North Dakota. This implies that most North Dakota divorce records can be accessed, viewed, and copied by any member of the public. Only divorce records that have been sealed by court orders are exempted from public access. While any member of the public can view divorce records not everyone can obtain certified copies of these documents in North Dakota. Certified copies of divorce records are only available to:

  • Individuals named in the records
  • Adult children of the individuals on the records
  • Parents or legal guardians of the individuals named in the records
  • Authorized legal representatives of the divorced parties

A sealed divorce record is a confidential divorce record made inaccessible to the public by the order of a court. This means that parts of the record (or the entire record) will become restricted and access will no longer be available to members of the public.

To seal divorce records in North Dakota, there must be an agreement between both parties to the divorce. Opposition from one party means the record cannot be sealed. Once mutual consent has been achieved, both parties must file a motion with the court to seal some or all of their divorce record. A Family Court judge will review the motion and decide to grant the motion or not. North Dakota law mandates that access to public court records only be restricted if legitimate privacy interests outweigh the public’s right to transparency with regards to court proceedings and court records. Reasons most acceptable to a court to have records sealed include:

  • Protecting victims of domestic violence or abuse
  • Protecting the identities of underage children
  • Protecting proprietary business information
  • Protecting financial information like social security numbers and banking information
  • Preventing the spread of false allegations

A motion requesting the sealing of a divorce record should be narrowly tailored and not seek to seal off more information than necessary. Courts will generally agree to seal off only as much information as is required to protect the privacy interests in question. Motions that meet this requirement have a better chance of being granted than those seeking to seal off entire records.

If the motion is granted then the sensitive portions of the divorce records will be redacted and made unavailable to members of the public. Only the parties to the divorce will have access to unredacted divorce records. A third party seeking access to the complete and unredacted divorce records must obtain a court order granting access to the sealed sections.

How Do I Obtain a North Dakota Divorce Decree?

A North Dakota divorce decree is in the custody of the County Recorder in the county where the divorce was granted. The attorneys of record will receive copies of the divorce decree after the judgment has been finalized and the divorced parties may obtain these copies from their attorneys.

To obtain a certified copy of a North Dakota divorce decree, submit a written request to the County Recorder in the county where the divorce was finalized. Divorce decrees can also be requested by visiting the appropriate County Recorder Office and making the request in person. Certified copies of divorce decrees are only available to the eligible parties. These are the individuals named on the record, their immediate family members, and their legal representatives. A valid photo ID is required when making a request for a divorce record. The County Recorder maintaining the divorce record will charge a fee for the search, copying, and certification of the divorce decree. This fee may vary in different counties or judicial districts. When making the request, provide the following information to facilitate the record search:

  • Names of both individuals on the divorce record including maiden names
  • Date of divorce finalization
  • Location of the divorce finalization
  • Relationship to one or both parties named in the record

The State of North Dakota Courts website provides access to divorce records through its North Dakota Court Record Inquiry (NDCRI) system and offers a handy search tool. The information available through this service is not considered an official court record. It is not a certified record and cannot be used for legal purposes.

Government public record search portals and third-party public record websites both may provide court records search tools, which can help find divorce records, though record availability usually varies widely. Divorce records in particular may simply not be available through either source.

How Do I Obtain a North Dakota Divorce Certificate?

Divorce certificates are public documents that are typically provided by a state’s Department of Health when a request is received. The North Dakota Department of Health Division of Vital Records does not issue divorce records. Inquiries about divorce records received by the Division of Vital Records will be forwarded to the appropriate County Recorder.

Does North Dakota Recognize Common-Law Marriages?

North Dakota common-law marriages are not recognized as lawful unions in the state. However, North Dakota common-law marriages are acknowledged as valid if created in other states that support this type of union. A common-law marriage (also known as non-ceremonial marriage or informal marriage) is a legal structure where cohabiting couples hold themselves out to friends, family, and the community as “being married,” but without going through a formal ceremony or acquiring a marriage license. Merely adopting a partner’s last name or living together for an extended period of time does not validate a common-law marriage.