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Kyle Potter, Published April 29 2014

ND Supreme Court upholds decision granting custody of children to Fargo surgeon

FARGO – The Fargo surgeon whose ex-wife unsuccessfully claimed he drugged and raped her should maintain custody of their three children, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Alonna Norberg asked the state court to overturn her divorce settlement, arguing that East Central District Judge Steven Marquart was wrong in granting her ex-husband, Dr. Jon Norberg, custody of their kids and dividing their assets.

After filing for divorce, Alonna Norberg alleged her husband drugged her with the painkiller propofol and raped her while she was drugged. Jon Norberg denied those allegations, which he said his wife made up in order to secure custody of their three children.

A jury acquitted Jon Norberg on those criminal charges, and Alonna Norberg lost custody of the children. Norberg got his suspended medical license back and took a job with Sanford Health late last year.

Alonna Norberg argued before the Supreme Court that Marquart “improperly relied on Jon Norberg’s acquittal from the criminal charges, viewing the acquittal as the equivalent of factual vindication,” according to the state Supreme Court’s opinion.

The Supreme Court disagreed and upheld the lower court’s decision to grant Jon Norberg custody of the children.

But the court also remanded the divorce case to the East Central District courts to redistribute their assets. The Supreme Court ruled the lower court erred in its distribution, as Alonna Norberg argued, by not including several properties they owned.

The Supreme Court also sent the case back to the lower court, which the higher court said improperly forgave Jon Norberg of all unpaid child support and also improperly shut the door on paying out spousal support to Alonna Norberg, who is disabled, in the future.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kyle Potter at (701) 241-5502