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Number of marriages, divorces decreases in Grand Forks, Polk counties

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GRAND FORKS -- The course of true love never does run smoothly or, apparently, through Grand Forks and Polk counties.

That is if the number of marriages registered in each county is any indication of “true love.”

Over the past five years, the number of marriages dropped for both Grand Forks and Polk counties. In 2014, Grand Forks County recorded 456 marriages, but in 2018, the county registered 402 marriages. The latter number marked the lowest figure in a decade, said Amber Gudajtes, director of tax equalization with Grand Forks County. Gudajtes said she didn’t have an explanation for the recent decline.

The county reported a five-year high of 468 marriages in 2015.

In Polk County, the number of marriages has dropped from 218 in 2014 to 136 in 2018. That figure continued to decrease over the following years, hitting a five-year low of 133 in 2017. In 2018, though, that number ticked up slightly to 136.

Meanwhile, the percent of married people in the entire state of North Dakota held mostly steady from 2012 through 2017, the latest year for which U.S. Census data is available. In 2012, the Census reported that 53 percent of North Dakotans were married. By 2017, the percentage dipped slightly to 52.3 percent.

It’s been a similar story in Minnesota, where 53 percent of all residents were married in 2012. In 2017, the Census reported that 52.2 percent of Minnesotans were married.

But there may be some good news for wedded bliss at the local level, at least: The number of divorce cases filed in Grand Forks County dropped from 232 in 2014 to 220 in 2018. In the years in between, divorces wavered between 206 and 215.

Between 2014 and 2018, there also was a small number of legal separation cases filed — about two or so each year.

“Legal separation is essentially a divorce without ending the marriage entirely,” said Catie Palsgraaf, acting court law librarian for the North Dakota Supreme Court Law Library. “The process and requirements are the same as a divorce, but legally separated spouses can’t remarry.”