NORTH DAKOTA DIVORCE
14-05-01. Marriage - How dissolved. Marriage is dissolved only:
1. By the death of one of the parties; or
2. By a judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction decreeing a divorce of the parties.
14-05-02. Effect of divorce. The effect of a judgment decreeing a divorce is to restore
the parties to the state of unmarried persons, but neither party to a divorce may marry except in
accordance with the decree of the court granting the divorce. It is the duty of the court granting a
divorce to specify in the order for judgment whether either or both of the parties shall be
permitted to marry, and if so, when. The court shall have jurisdiction to modify the decree of
divorce at any time so as to permit one or both of the parties to marry, if the court deems it right.
14-05-02.1. Decree to include social security numbers. Each decree of divorce must
include the social security numbers of the parties to the divorce.
14-05-03. Causes for divorce. Divorces may be granted for any of the following
2. Extreme cruelty.
3. Willful desertion.
4. Willful neglect.
5. Abuse of alcohol or controlled substances.
6. Conviction of felony.
7. Irreconcilable differences.
14-05-03.1. Grounds for separation. The court may grant a temporary or permanent
decree of separation for any cause for which a divorce may be decreed.
14-05-04. Adultery defined. Adultery is the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married
person with a person other than the offender's husband or wife.
14-05-05. Extreme cruelty defined. Extreme cruelty is the infliction by one party to the
marriage of grievous bodily injury or grievous mental suffering upon the other.
14-05-06. Desertion defined. Willful desertion is the voluntary separation of one of the
married parties from the other with intent to desert:
1. Persistent refusal to have reasonable matrimonial intercourse as husband and wife
when health or physical condition does not make such refusal reasonably
necessary, or the refusal of either party to dwell in the same house with the other
party when there is no just cause for such refusal, is desertion.
2. When one party is induced by the stratagem or fraud of the other party to leave the
family dwelling place or to be absent, and during such absence the offending party
departs with intent to desert the other, it is desertion by the party committing the
stratagem or fraud and not by the other.
3. Departure or absence of one party from the family dwelling place caused by cruelty
or by threats of bodily harm from which danger reasonably would be apprehended
from the other is not desertion by the absent party, but it is desertion by the other
4. Separation by consent, with or without the understanding that one of the parties will
apply for a divorce, is not desertion.
5. Absence or separation, proper in itself, becomes desertion whenever the intent to
desert is fixed during such absence or separation.
6. Consent to a separation is a revocable act, and if one of the parties afterwards in
good faith seeks a reconciliation and restoration but the other refuses it, such refusal
7. If one party deserts the other and before the expiration of the statutory period
required to make the desertion a cause of divorce returns and offers in good faith to
fulfill the marriage contract and solicits condonation, the desertion is cured. If the
other party refuses such offer and condonation, the refusal must be deemed and
treated as desertion by such party from the time of the refusal.
14-05-07. Willful neglect defined. Willful neglect is the failure of either spouse to
provide for the common necessaries of life for the other party, when that spouse has the ability to
do so and the party alleging neglect does not have the ability, or when a spouse fails to provide
by reason of idleness, profligacy, or dissipation.
14-05-08. Abuse of alcohol or controlled substances defined. Abuse of alcohol or
controlled substances is that degree of use which disqualifies the person a great portion of the
time from properly attending to business or which reasonably would inflict a course of great
mental anguish upon the innocent party. For purposes of this chapter, "controlled substance"
means a substance as defined in section 19-03.1-01.
14-05-08.1. Recognition of foreign decree of divorce and foreign annulment of
marriage. A decree of divorce or of annulment of marriage obtained in a court of another
jurisdiction is of no force or effect in this state, if the parties to the marriage were domiciled in this
state at the time such decree was rendered.
If a person obtains a decree of divorce or of annulment of marriage from a court of
another jurisdiction and was domiciled in this state within less than twelve months prior to
obtaining the decree and resumes residence in this state within six months after obtaining the
decree, it is prima facie evidence that such person did not abandon the person's domicile in this
state prior to obtaining the decree.
The provisions of this section do not apply to any divorce or annulment of marriage
obtained in proceedings begun prior to the passage of this section.
14-05-09. Desertion, neglect, intemperance - Duration. Willful desertion, willful
neglect, or habitual intemperance must continue for one year before either is a ground for a
14-05-09.1. Irreconcilable differences defined. Irreconcilable differences are those
grounds which are determined by the court to be substantial reasons for not continuing the
marriage and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved.
14-05-10. Denial of divorce. Divorces must be denied upon showing:
1. Condonation; or
2. Limitation and lapse of time.
14-05-13. Condonation defined - Requisites. Condonation is the conditional
forgiveness of a matrimonial offense constituting a cause of divorce. The following requirements
are necessary to condonation:
1. A knowledge on the part of the condoner of the facts constituting the cause of
2. Reconciliation and remission of the offense by the injured party; and
3. Restoration of the offending party to all marital rights.
Condonation implies a condition subsequent that the forgiving party must be treated with
conjugal kindness. When the cause of divorce consists of a course of offensive conduct, or
arises in cases of cruelty from successive acts of ill treatment, which aggregately may constitute
the offense, cohabitation, or passive endurance, or conjugal kindness shall not be evidence of
condonation of any of the acts constituting such cause, unless accompanied by an express
agreement to condone. In such cases, condonation can be made only after the cause of divorce
has become complete as to the acts complained of. A fraudulent concealment by the condonee
of facts constituting a different cause of divorce from the one condoned and existing at the time
of condonation avoids such condonation.
14-05-14. Revocation of condonation. Condonation is revoked and the original cause
of divorce revived:
1. When the condonee commits acts constituting a like or other cause of divorce; or
2. When the condonee is guilty of great conjugal unkindness, not amounting to a cause
of divorce, but sufficiently habitual and gross to show that the conditions of
condonation had not been accepted in good faith or not fulfilled.
14-05-16. Limitation of time. A divorce must be denied when there is an unreasonable
lapse of time before the commencement of the action. Unreasonable lapse of time is such a
delay in commencing the action as establishes the presumption that there has been connivance,
collusion, or condonation of the offense, or full acquiescence in the same, with intent to continue
the marriage relation, notwithstanding the commission of the offense set up as a ground of
divorce. The presumption arising from lapse of time may be rebutted by showing reasonable
grounds for the delay in commencing the action. There are no limitations of time for
commencing actions for divorce, except such as are contained in this section.
14-05-17. Residence requirements. A separation or divorce may not be granted unless
the plaintiff in good faith has been a resident of the state for six months next preceding
commencement of the action. If the plaintiff has not been a resident of this state for the six
months preceding commencement of the action, a separation or divorce may be granted if the
plaintiff in good faith has been a resident of this state for the six months immediately preceding
entry of the decree of separation or divorce.
14-05-18. Presumption of domicile. In actions for divorce, the presumption of law that
the domicile of the husband is the domicile of the wife does not apply. After separation, each
party may have a separate domicile, depending for proof upon actual residence and not upon
14-05-20. Legitimacy of children - Adultery by husband. When a divorce is granted
for the adultery of the husband, the legitimacy of children of the marriage begotten of the wife
before the commencement of the action is not affected.
14-05-21. Legitimacy of children - Adultery by wife. When a divorce is granted for the
adultery of the wife, the legitimacy of children begotten of her before the commission of the
adultery is not affected, but the legitimacy of other children of the wife may be determined by the
court upon the evidence in the case. In every such case, all children begotten before the
commencement of the action are to be presumed legitimate until the contrary is shown.
14-05-22. Parental rights and responsibilities - Costs.
1. In an action for divorce, the court, before or after judgment, may give direction for
parenting rights and responsibilities of the children of the marriage and may vacate
or modify the same at any time. Any award or change of primary parental
responsibilities must be made in accordance with the provisions of chapter 14-09.
2. After making an award of primary residential responsibility, the court, upon request
of the other parent, shall grant such rights of parenting time as will enable the child
to maintain a parent-child relationship that will be beneficial to the child, unless the
court finds, after a hearing, that such rights of parenting time are likely to endanger
the child's physical or emotional health.
14-05-23. Temporary support, attorney's fees, and parental rights and
responsibilities. During any time in which an action for separation or divorce is pending, the
court, upon application of a party, may issue an order requiring a party to pay such support as
may be necessary for the support of a party and minor children of the parties and for the
payment of attorney's fees. The court in the order may make an order concerning parental rights
and responsibilities concerning the children of the parties. The order may be issued and served
in accordance with the North Dakota Rules of Court. The court may include in the order a
provision for domestic violence protection provided the party has submitted a verified application
for the order which is sufficient to meet the criteria defined in subsection 2 of section 14-07.1-01.
A violation of the protection provision of the order is subject to the penalties established in section
14-07.1-06 and the arrest procedures authorized in section 14-07.1-11.
14-05-24. Division of property and debts.
1. When a divorce is granted, the court shall make an equitable distribution of the
property and debts of the parties.
2. The court may redistribute property and debts in a postjudgment proceeding if a
party has failed to disclose property and debts as required by rules adopted by the
supreme court or the party fails to comply with the terms of a court order distributing
property and debts.
14-05-24.1. Spousal support. Taking into consideration the circumstances of the
parties, the court may require one party to pay spousal support to the other party for any period
of time. The court may modify its spousal support orders.
14-05-25. Security for alimony - Disposition of homestead. The court may require
either party to give reasonable security for providing maintenance or making any payments
required under the provisions of this chapter and may enforce the same by appointment of a
receiver or by any other remedy applicable to the case. When either the husband or the wife has
a separate estate sufficient to give a proper support, the court in its discretion may withhold any
allowance to that person out of the separate property of the other spouse. The court, in
rendering the decree of divorce, may assign the homestead or such part thereof as to the court
may seem just, to the innocent party, either absolutely or for a limited period, according to the
facts in the case and in consonance with the law relating to homesteads. The disposition of the
homestead by the court, and all orders and decrees touching the alimony and maintenance of
either party to a marriage and for the custody, education, and support of the children are subject
to revision on appeal in all particulars, including those which are stated to be in the discretion of
14-05-25.1. Money judgment to secure division of property enforceable by
contempt proceedings - Exemptions from process not available. Failure to comply with the
provisions of a separation or divorce decree relating to distribution of the property of the parties
constitutes contempt of court. A party may also execute on a money judgment, and the obligor is
entitled only to the absolute exemptions from process set forth in section 28-22-02.
14-05-25.2. Enforcement of support order. Any order or judgment for the support of a
spouse or former spouse entered under this chapter may be enforced by any means permitted
under section 459 of the Social Security Act [Pub. L. 93-647; 88 Stat. 2357; 42 U.S.C. 659] and
not forbidden under title 32. Any such order or judgment may also be enforced in any manner
provided for the enforcement of an order for the payment of child support under chapter 14-09 to
the fullest extent permitted under section 459 of the Social Security Act [Pub. L. 93-647; 88 Stat.
2357; 42 U.S.C. 659]. For purposes of enforcement under chapter 14-09, the order for support of
a spouse or former spouse must be treated as though it were an order for child support.
14-05-26. Separate maintenance provided for when divorce denied. Though a
judgment of divorce is denied, the court in an action for divorce may provide for the maintenance
of one spouse by the other and the maintenance of any or all children.
14-05-27. Separation - Spousal support - Division of property. Upon the granting of
a separation, the court may include in the decree an order requiring a party to pay for spousal
support and for the support of any minor children of the parties. Subject to section 14-05-24, the
decree may also provide for the equitable division of the property and debts of the parties.
14-05-28. Decree of separation - Effect. The decree of separation confers upon the
parties all the rights of property, business, and contracts as if unmarried and releases both
parties from all obligations of maintenance, except as may be required by the decree.
14-05-29. Revocation of decree of separation - Divorce granted. At any time after a
decree for separation has been granted, the court may revoke the decree based upon any
regulations or restrictions the court imposed in the decree. Application for revocation may be
made by either party to the decree. The party making the application for revocation shall provide
to the other party to the decree at least ten days' and not more than twenty days' notice of the
application. Service must be made in the same manner as service of a summons in a civil
action. If it appears to the court at the hearing of the application that reconciliation between the
parties to the marriage is improbable, the court shall revoke the separation decree and, in lieu of
that decree, shall render a decree divorcing the parties. If the court has not previously done so,
the court shall provide for the equitable division of the property, shall make orders with respect to
any minor children, and may provide for the payment of support to either party by the other.
ACTION FOR SPOUSAL OR CHILD SUPPORT
14-08-01. Action against husband or wife for support of spouse and minor children
- When maintained. Any married person may maintain an action in the district court of the
county in which the person resides against the person's spouse for failure on the spouse's part to
1. The support of the party bringing suit; and
2. The support of minor children by said husband or wife living with the party bringing
14-08-02. Power of court to render judgment. If it appears to the court upon the trial
of an action against a husband or wife to provide support for that person's spouse and minor
children that that person is able to support or contribute to the support of that person's spouse
and said children and that the person neglects or refuses to perform the person's duty in that
respect, the court may render such judgment as to the support by the person of that person's
spouse and said children as is equitable in view of the circumstances of both parties.
14-08-03. Procedure for action. The practice in an action against a husband or wife to
provide support for that person's spouse and minor children must conform as nearly as may be
to the practice in actions for divorce.
14-08-04. What payments made by spouse pending action. The court in its
discretion may require the defending spouse to pay any money necessary to enable the plaintiff
to prosecute the action and to support the plaintiff and any children in the plaintiff's custody
during its pendency.
14-08-05. Security required - Receiver. The court may require the defendant in an
action to give reasonable security for making any payments required under the provisions of this
chapter and may enforce the same by the appointment of a receiver or by any remedy applicable
to the case.
14-08-06. Modifying or vacating judgment. The judgment may be modified or vacated
at any time upon the hearing of the parties.
14-08-07. Support payments - Payment to court - Transfer of payment to court of
recipient's residence - Transfer of proceedings for enforcement of decree - Procedures
upon failure to pay. Repealed by S.L. 1989, ch. 148, § 36.