N.D.C.C. §1-01-03 provides:
1-01-03. Expression of law.
The will of the sovereign power is expressed by:
The decisions of the tribunals enforcing those rules, which, though not enacted, form
what is known as customary or common law.
N.D.C.C. §1-01-05 provides:
1-01-05. Evidence of common law.
The evidence of the common law is found in the decisions of the tribunals.
Petition of Dengler, 246 NW 2d 758 - ND: Supreme Court 1976 states:
Several courts have held that the statute prescribing a method for changing a name does not abrogate the common law right of an individual to change his name without application to the courts. See 65 C.J.S. Names § 11(2), page 32. A different result is reached where the statute provides the exclusive method of changing a name. We do not consider the North Dakota law to be exclusive, but we need not resolve this question here. It is only when the statute is not exclusive that common law in the absence of fraud or other like evasion of obligations permits the free use of any name a person may choose. Green, supra, and In re Anonymous, 57 Misc.2d 813, 293 N.Y.S.2d 834 (1968).
In the Matter of Mees, 465 NW 2d 172 - ND: Supreme Court 1991 states:
In Petition of Dengler, supra, we said that our name-change statute is not exclusive but instead supplements the common law. Id. At common law, one has a general right to change one's name, absent a fraudulent purpose: "There is nothing in the common law requiring a showing of a compelling need to justify a change of name and any such requirement is inconsistent with the common-law principle that names may be changed in the absence of a fraudulent purpose." 57 Am.Jur.2d Name § 17 at 665.
*Note about North Dakota: The reception statutes do not specifically adopt the common law of England, however In re Estate of Conley, 753 NW 2d 384 - ND: Supreme Court 2008 had this to say:
[¶ 26] Section 1-01-05, N.D.C.C., states that "[t]he evidence of the common law is found in the decisions of the tribunals." Section 1-01-05, N.D.C.C., does not provide that the common law is derived only from the decisions of North Dakota tribunals. This Court has been called upon to discuss the source and breadth of the common law:
In determining the common law of this state we are not restricted to the law as it has evolved over the centuries in England. The common law, which is based on reason and public policy, can best be determined by studying the decisions of our federal and state courts and the writings of past and present students of our country's law over all the years of American judicial history. This is not to say that help in determining the common law may not be found by studying the ancient law of England, but we are in no wise limited to such a study for a determination of the common law of North Dakota.
Lembke v. Unke, 171 N.W.2d 837, 842 (N.D.1969).
[¶ 27] Here, the district court erred in determining this common law presumption did not exist in North Dakota because the issue has not been before this Court. As noted above, the animo revocandi presumption was an English common law rule, which was carried over and adopted by a majority of jurisdictions in the United States. The presumption exists at common law, and the district court erred in deciding such a presumption could not and did not exist because that issue had not been adjudicated by this Court. We adopt the presumption and must turn to the question of what standard of evidence is required to rebut the presumption.
Lembke v. Unke, 171 NW 2d 837 - ND: Supreme Court 1969 had previously stated:
Lest it be argued that we are governed by the common law of England in ascertaining our common law, we quote the following passage from that case and adopt its view:
Another aspect of appellee's argument that should not pass unnoticed is that AS 01.10.010, which makes the common law applicable in Alaska, refers to the common law of England. It should be noted here that we have the common law of the United States now, some of which is over 300 years old. The ancient common law of England is not controlling over the developing common law of our own country.
Thus, while North Dakota has not explicitly adopted the common law of England, the "common law of the United States" is presumptive and usually rooted in it, the other 2 cases above (Dengler & Mees) have affirmed the presumption that there is a common law right to change one's name in North Dakota.