Determining the Best Interests of the Child - North Dakota

Date: September 2023

Guiding Principles

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Best Interests Factors

Citation: Cent. Code § 14-09-06.2(1) 

The best interests and welfare of the child are determined by the court's consideration and evaluation of all factors affecting the best interests and welfare of the child. These factors include all the following, when applicable:

  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and child and the ability of each parent to provide the child with nurturing, love, affection, and guidance
  • The ability of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and a safe environment
  • The child's developmental needs and the ability of each parent to meet those needs, both in the present and in the future
  • The sufficiency and stability of each parent's home environment, the impact of extended family, the length of time the child has lived in each parent's home, and the desirability of maintaining continuity in the child's home and community
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child
  • The moral fitness of the parents, as that fitness impacts the child
  • The mental and physical health of the parents, as that health impacts the child
  • The home, school, and community records of the child and the potential effect of any change
  • Evidence of domestic violence
  • The interaction and interrelationship, or the potential for interaction and interrelationship, of the child with any person who resides in, is present, or frequents the household of a parent and who may significantly affect the child's best interests
  • The making of false allegations not made in good faith, by one parent against the other, of harm to a child
  • Any other factors considered by the court to be relevant to a particular parental rights and responsibilities dispute

Other Considerations

Citation: Cent. Code § 14-09-06.2(1)(i)-(j) 

If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a child is of sufficient maturity to make a sound judgment, the court may give substantial weight to the preference of the mature child. The court also shall give due consideration to other factors that may have affected the child's preference, including whether the child's preference was based on undesirable or improper influences. 

In determining parental rights and responsibilities, the court shall consider evidence of domestic violence. If the court finds credible evidence that domestic violence has occurred, and there exists one incident of domestic violence that resulted in serious bodily injury or involved the use of a dangerous weapon or there exists a pattern of domestic violence within a reasonable time proximate to the proceeding, this combination creates a rebuttable presumption that a parent who has perpetrated domestic violence may not be awarded residential responsibility for the child. This presumption may be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of the child require that the parent have residential responsibility.