North Dakota Custody and Visitation Schedules

How do I make my North Dakota custody and visitation schedule?

You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.

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What should I know about custody laws as I make my visitation schedule?

North Dakota has specific laws regarding child custody and visitation that must be adhered to when you are creating your child visitation schedule.

These laws can be found in Title 14, (Domestic Relations and Persons), of the North Dakota Century Code. There are several sections within that title.

Some of them define the terminology used be the court and the law when determining parental rights and responsibilities. Others outline the procedures that are to be followed in the child custody process.

Despite the large size of the North Dakota Century Code, the law is rather clear and easy to understand.

If you incorporate the law into your plan when creating a child visitation schedule and it meets the needs and serves the best interests of your child, it should prove to be beneficial and will increase your chance of a positive outcome in your case.

In North Dakota, what are the terms used to define custody / residency?

One of the first things to consider when making a custody and visitation schedule (also called a parenting time schedule in North Dakota) is the residency of your child.

Chapter 14-09-00.1 in the North Dakota Century Code has some information about how to define the residence of your child:

  • Residential responsibility means a parent's responsibility to provide a home for the child.
  • Primary residential responsibility means a parent with more than fifty percent of the residential responsibility.

Your schedule should show the residential responsibility of each parent, which means that the schedule should how when the child spends time with each parent.

What should I include in my North Dakota custody and visitation schedule?

In North Dakota, a child visitation schedule (or parenting time schedule) is a major component of the parenting plan that North Dakota requires parents to submit to the court (NDCC § 14-09-00.1.4).

The child visitation schedule should be comprised of three basic elements:

  • A residential schedule that specifies the days and times the child will be with each parent on a regular, ongoing basis
  • A holiday schedule, which supersedes the regular schedule, to allow the child equitable time with each parent on holidays and special occasions
  • A vacation schedule, or provisions for spending vacation time, that allows the child to spend extended time with each parent for school breaks and during the parents' personal vacation time

How can I make sure I am creating my child visitation schedule fairly?

When creating your North Dakota child custody and visitation schedule, you could start by evaluating the schedules of both parents to define each parent's availability, and proceed from there.

A child visitation schedule should provide the child with stability, security, and frequent, ongoing contact with both parents. There is no set formula for creating the schedule.

Every child is different, with different circumstances, and your child visitation schedule can be as unique as your child is. You should not feel bound or restricted by the old, traditional schedules that have been handed down by the courts for years.

As long as the schedule serves the best interests of and meets the needs of the child, it should be approved of by the court.

In North Dakota, what does the court consider when ruling on custody?

When determining custody of a child and ruling on matters involving parental rights and responsibilities, the court basis decisions on the child's welfare and what is in the best interest of the child.

The court considers and evaluates the following factors when determining what is best for the child (NDCC § 14-09-06.2):

  • The existing relationships between each parent and the child
  • The love, affection, and bonds that exist
  • Each parent's ability to nurture, love, and provide affection and guidance to the child
  • The ability of each parent to provide the child with basic needs, including a safe environment, adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care
  • The developmental needs of the child and each parent's ability to meet those needs
  • The fitness of each parent's home environment
  • The length of time the child has spent in each parent's home
  • The child's relationships with any siblings or extended family
  • Whether or not maintaining the continuity of the child's home and community would have an adverse or positive effect on the child
  • The likeliness of each parent to foster and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
  • The moral fitness of each parent, as that fitness has an effect on the child
  • The physical and mental health of the parents, if the health condition may have an impact on the child
  • The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community, and what impact changing any of those arrangements would have on the child
  • The wishes of the child, if the court finds that the child is old enough and able to voice a mature, unbiased, uninfluenced decision
  • Any evidence of domestic violence
  • The interaction or potential for interaction between the child and any person who may present a danger to the child
  • Any intentionally false accusations of abuse made by one parent against another
  • Any other factors the court deems to be relevant

When you create a child visitation schedule that is consistent with what the court (and common sense) considers to be in the best interests of the child, while complying with the requirements of the law, you are better equipped to submit a schedule the court will successfully approve.

The top ten cities in North Dakota (by population, US Census estimate, 2007) are: Fargo, Bismark, Grand Forks, Minot, West Fargo, Mandan, Dickinson, Jamestown, Williston, Wahpeton.

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