Can I get a divorce if my spouse and I still live together?
Whether you can file while still living with your spouse may depend on whether you plan to file for divorce under a fault-based ground or a no-fault ground. In North Dakota, you can sometimes lose your fault-based grounds for divorce through what is called condonation.1 Condonation is when your spouse does something that is a fault-based ground for divorce, such as abusing you, committing adultery, abusing alcohol or drugs very frequently, etc., and you accept him/her back on the condition that s/he acts better.2 When you accept him/her back or live with him/her again as spouses, you may have lost that ground for divorce and may not be able to get it back unless s/he commits that act again or does other things that show the judge that s/he really did not act right after you forgave him/her.3 However, judges often don’t consider continuing to live with an abusive spouse as condonation unless you expressly agree to forgive him/her and try again.2
Because you could lose your grounds for divorce, we strongly encourage you to seek the advice of an attorney if you plan to remain in the same home as your spouse. Also, living with your spouse while divorcing him/her can be very emotionally difficult for you and for your children. But more importantly, it can be very dangerous if your spouse has been abusive. To make a safety plan, you may want to talk to an advocate, which you can find on our ND Advocates and Shelters page.
1 N.D.C.C. § 14-05-10
2 N.D.C.C. § 14-05-13
3 N.D.C.C. § 14-05-14