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In the state of North Dakota, the focus of a parenting plan must be on the best interests of the child. Further, decisions made in regards to the child’s upbringing should reflect the love, affection and contact of both parents regardless of their individual circumstances. The North Dakota legal code (N.D.C.C. 14-09-06.2) states that both parties must create a parenting plan for their child by filing a Joint Physical Custody and Childcare Agreement.
The agreement must include subjects such as the child’s living arrangements, responsibilities for daily care, parental decision-making authority, and financial and medical matters. In cases of dispute, the court may intervene and impose an arrangement that they see as most appropriate, considering the best interests of the child.
The decision of whether one or both parties have custody of the child is determined under the model of ‘supported shared parenting’, which educates both parents on the best ways to co-parent and ensures that they take on equal responsibility. It is the policy of the court in North Dakota to encourage both parents to be equally involved in the life of the child and this is weighed heavily in the decision-making process.
The laws of North Dakota govern how parents should make decisions for their child’s upbringing. According to the North Dakota state laws (N.D.C.C. 14-09-06.3) either parent can take an action without consulting the other parent, as long as the decision is in the child’s best interest, and a parent can exercise any of the rights pertaining to their child in the absence of a court order to the contrary.
In most cases, decisions surrounding the health, education and welfare of the child should be discussed and agreed on by both parents. Major decisions not in the day-to-day care of the child, such as which school to send the child to or consenting to medical operations, should also take into consideration both parent’s opinion, in order to develop a secure environment for the child.
In cases where agreement can not be reached, some districts and communities within North Dakota have family court facilitators available that can offer assistance in resolving disputes. In situations where mediation and other sources of dispute resolution do not prove viable, the court should be drawn upon to make a final decision.
When two parents are divorced, separated or otherwise no longer living together, North Dakota courts mandate that both parents must provide visitation rights for their child. This means that non-custodial parents must be allowed reasonable access to the child and should not be treated any differently than the custodial parent.
The North Dakota legal code (N.D.C.C. 14-09-05.4) states that the court may grant reasonable visitation rights to the non-custodial parent of the child, while specifying that such a visitation order should be created in the best interests of the child, with consideration of both parents' availability.
Visitation guidelines should normally be established as part of a collaborative parenting agreement. In the absence of such an agreement having been made between the parties, the court will issue a visitation order, with the focus balancing the interests of the child and their relationship with each parent. Visitation rights are generally considered paramount to the healthy development of the child, and so both parties must be respectful of these rights.
In order to avoid lengthy and expensive court proceedings, North Dakota courts strongly encourage both parties to consider alternative dispute resolution to resolve any disagreements or disputes. Mediation is one of the most beneficial approaches to resolving disagreements and communication issues, enabling both parties to discuss matters with an experienced mediator.
According to the North Dakota legal code (N.D.C.C. 14-09-09) the court may on their own motion or at the request of either party and in the best interest of the child, arrange for a mediator to be employed in cases of visitation. Additionally, some counties in the state have Family Court Facilitators available, who are typically Family Teachers or Family Counselors and specialise in helping resolve disputes amongst co-parents.
Regardless of the chosen path, when co-parents in North Dakota are unable to make decisions in the best interests of the child, any court decisions should consider the child’s best interest above any other factors.
Co-parents have a legal obligation to ensure that their children are provided for, in terms of medical expenses, housing and education fees, and other needs. In the state of North Dakota, this financial obligation is governed by the guidelines of the Child Support Enforcement Division, which outlines parental responsibilities, payment amounts, and enforcement measures.
In cases of co-parenting, both parents continue to have a financial responsibility to the child, regardless of whichever parent has primary custody. As outlined by the North Dakota legal code (N.D.C.C. 14-09-09.6), the court may order both parents to equally contribute to the costs of birthdays, holidays and other related expenses, in addition to any child support payments.
It is important to note that the Child Support Enforcement Division does not enforce payment of such co-parenting expenses, and as such any arrangements surrounding such expenses must be organised between the two parties. In cases of dispute, the court may intervene to impose appropriate measures, such as garnishment of wages or suspension of driving privileges.
When two parties decide to become co-parents in North Dakota, there are numerous considerations to be taken into account. It is important that any divorce or separation agreement should take into account issues such as custody or visitation rights and other financial considerations. Ultimately, co-parenting is all about ensuring that the needs of the child are considered first and foremost, and in these cases the courts will always default to this position.
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Warning: This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.