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Legal Information: North Dakota


December 28, 2023

What are the grounds for divorce?

“Grounds” are legally acceptable reasons for a divorce.1 In North Dakota, there are different grounds for fault and no-fault divorces.

The only ground for a no-fault divorce is irreconcilable differences. This means that the judge will look to see if there are good reasons for not continuing the marriage.2

The grounds for a fault-based divorce are:

  • adultery - your spouse is unfaithful or cheats on you;
  • extreme cruelty - one spouse causes serious bodily injury or mental suffering on the other;3
  • willful neglect - when your spouse refuses to provide common life necessities;4
  • abuse of alcohol or controlled substances - the use must be severe enough that it affects business or causes great mental suffering for an innocent spouse;5
  • imprisonment in a state or federal prison for committing a felony. The spouse must be in prison at the time of the filing for divorce.
  • desertion - any of these things count as desertion:
    • refusal to have intercourse for a year, if a medical condition doesn’t make refusal necessary;
    • refusal to live in same house as one’s spouse for a year, as long as the refusal is not because the spouse is violent or threatening violence; or
    • you agree to separate, and then one of you wants to reconcile and the other doesn’t.6

1 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-05-03
2 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-05-09.1
3 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-05-05
4 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-05-07
5 N.D. Cent. Code § 14-05-08
6 N.D. Cent. Code §§ 14-05-06; 14-05-09