Family Law Article


Divorce on the Navajo Nation - Grounds and Requirements

Divorce on the Navajo Nation:  Grounds and requirements

 

What are the grounds for divorce on the Navajo Nation?

A.       Underage.  The person asking for a divorce (the “Petitioner”) was under age 18 when (s)he got married.  This is not grounds if the Petitioner freely lived with the other person as husband and wife after reaching age 18.

B.      Former marriage.  If the husband or wife was already married to someone else (including common law marriage) when they married each other.

C.      Adultery.  Unlawful voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with one of the opposite sex.

D.      Abandonment/Expulsion.  If either person willfully abandoned the other, or caused the Petitioner to leave against his/her wishes, for a period of six months before filing for divorce.

E.       Alcohol/narcotics.  When one of the spouses uses alcohol or drugs habitually to the mental anguish of the other.

F.       Abuse.  When one spouse inflicts “grievous bodily injury or grievous mental suffering” on the other.

G.     Neglect.  When the husband fails to support his family “according to his means, station in life, and ability.”

H.     Inability to live together in agreement and harmony.

I.        Pregnancy by another man.  In the husband’s favor if the wife was pregnant by another man when she married her husband, and the husband was unaware of it.  The divorce must be filed within a reasonable time after the husband learns of the (true nature of the) pregnancy.

J.        One-year separation.   Voluntary separation of the husband and wife for one year or more.

 

What are the requirements for filing for divorce?

 

“Personal jurisdiction.”   For the Navajo courts to “reach” the parties, the spouses must have “minimum contacts” with the Navajo Nation—they’re enrolled members of the tribe, or are eligible for enrollment, they lived, worked, spent time on, or visited the Navajo Nation, or children were conceived on the reservation.  “Personal jurisdiction” can be waived—regardless of who you are, if you come to the Navajo Court (or file a document with the court), you “submit yourself to the jurisdiction” of the Navajo Court.

 

90-Day Requirement.  The petitioner must live on the Navajo reservation for at least 90 days before filing for divorce in the Navajo Nation Family Court.

 

“Subject Matter Jurisdiction.”  The Navajo Nation has “original, exclusive” jurisdiction over domestic relations (including divorces) involving members of the Navajo Nation, or those eligible for enrollment with the Navajo Nation.  This means that divorce cases involving Navajo spouses or Navajo children must be filed in the Navajo Nation Family Court.  If neither spouse is Navajo (but they lived on the reservation), they can (but do not have to) file in the Navajo court.  Filing in state court is generally more expensive, more paperwork, and can take more time than filing in Navajo court; child support guidelines and alimony awards in NM and AZ state courts are very similar to those in Navajo courts.

 

Filing Fee.  The filing fee is $10, and it must be paid to the Family Court of the Navajo Nation when a divorce petition is filed with the Court.  There may be additional money needed if the spouse’s whereabouts are unknown, and the Petitioner has to publish legal notice in the newspaper.

 


Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • I’m getting a divorce with my only means of income 100% Va Disability, and Military Retirement. This is my 2nd marriage, all military service was completed prior to this marriage. My first former spouse already receives a portion of my military retirement. Can my military retirement or a portion of it be awarded to my 2nd former spouse?
  • My sister is married to her husband. He moved to Arizona and married a lady in the Indian reservation would this be a legal marriage and what does my sister need to do to nail this guy.
  • I have a 3 year old son we are both Navajo, I havent seen or been with my sons dad shortly after my son's birth. When I was 7 months pregnant we had a dv issue and I would like to terminate his rights. How do i go about that?
  • How do I find out about my ancisters, I have found informantion that leads me to believe that my Grandmother was Navajo??
  • My husband and I have been separated for 3 months and I have been live back in the reservation since. He lives and is stationed in Jacksonville, FL. We have a son together. My son and I are both registered members on the Navajo nation. Would I be able to file for divorce on the Navajo nation? I would like for my son and I to stay here, would I be able to take full custody since he is in the military?
  • My last name is different from my child's. .has father's last name but his name. Is Not. On birth. Certificate nor was we together. I have. Total custody of her, can I have her last name same as mine. On birth. Certificate
  • I have several questions that need an answer as soon as possible. I am trying to go back home to New Mexico, my homestate, but under custody issues I can not leave the state with my son. If I leave the state I am considered "kidnapping" and I will be in contempt of court. My entire network is in New Mexico and I would love to take my son with me. What should I do? I desperately need to get out of AZ.
  • If I feel that the judge that has my case is unfair and being partial to mky ex. can I request a new judge?
  • i have a friend who had a baby with a girl who he was dating and she left the baby with him, saying he can keep her that she wants to walk away from everything. What does he need to do to keep his daughter. And if she was to call the cops on him would he need to return the baby to his ex?
  • I need help with questions I have immediately involving my court. I am native American and I wasn't explained properly on a form that was regarding the icwa law for native Americans,by neither MY court appointed attorney and my cps caseworker. As judge read it in court with the ending part stating if I fail to comply with court orders I will give up temporary parent rights, and asked do u understand what I just read? I replied no, because I didn't know the icwa law part, and then no one explained n e thing and right away judge said my kids will have appointed Guardian ad litem, please help me

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