How Does the Court Decide Who Gets the Kids?

In North Dakota, decision making responsibility refers to who has the authority to make major decisions for the children. Residential responsibility refers to where the children will actually live the majority of the time. The parents may share residential responsibility or one parent may have residential responsibility and the other parent will have parenting time. When making decisions about residential responsibility the court will look at what is in the best interests of the child including:

  • The stability of the home including relationships with extended family and the length of time the child has lived in either parent’s home
  • The parents’ mental and physical health if it affects the child
  • The preference of the child depending on the child’s maturity
  • Love, affection, and emotional ties between the child and the parent
  • Willingness and ability of the parents to foster a continuing relationship with the other parent
  • The moral fitness of the parents if that impacts the child
  • The ability of the parents to fulfill the child’s developmental needs
  • The effect of anyone who lives with the parent or frequents the parent’s household who may significantly affect the best interests of the child.

The court also considers any other factors that it finds relevant including the ability of the parents to get along with each other. The judge will look at each family as the individual unit that it is.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on a legal matter.

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