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North Dakota Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

Though it may seem simple, the legal proceedings surrounding marriage actually have strict rules. Each state has its own set of annulment and prohibited marriage laws that prohibited marriage in certain circumstances. A prohibited marriage is void because the marriage was never lawful. Generally, there's no need to get an annulment or divorce in these cases. Commonly prohibited marriages typically include bigamous marriages, where a person tries to marry more than one spouse, or incestuous marriages, where a person tries to marry a relative.

An annulment, on the other hand, is a way to void a marriage that would be otherwise invalid. While both an annulment and a divorce end a marriage, an annulment wipes the slate clean as if there had been no marriage to begin with. However, you usually need to get an annulment within a certain amount of time, so it is important to know the laws and act promptly if you are considering annulling your marriage.

This article provides a brief overview of annulment and prohibited marriages in the state of North Dakota.

Annulment and Prohibited Marriage in North Dakota: Overview

The following chart lists additional details about North Dakota's laws regarding annulment and prohibited marriage. See FindLaw's Marriage Law section to learn more.

Grounds for Annulment

Under N.D. Cent. Code § 14-04-01, a marriage may be annulled by an action in the district court to obtain a decree of nullity for any of the following causes existing at the time of the marriage:
  • That the party filing for annulment was under the age of legal consent or that such party was of such age as to require the consent of the party's parents or guardians and the marriage was contracted without such consent, unless, after attaining legal age, such party freely cohabited with the other as husband or wife
  • That the former spouse of either party was living, and the marriage was then in force
  • That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party, after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband or wife
  • That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party afterward, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as husband or wife
  • That the party was at the time of the marriage was physically incapable of entering into the marriage state, and such incapacity continues and appears to be incurable
  • That the marriage was incestuous

Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment

Under N.D. Cent. Code § 14-04-02, an action to obtain a decree of nullity of marriage for causes must be commenced within the time periods and by the parties as follows:
  • Underage: Within four years after arriving at the age of consent, or by the party's parents or guardian at any time before such party arrived at the age of legal consent
  • Bigamy: By either party during the life of the other, or by such former husband or wife
  • Unsound mind: By the party injured, or a relative or guardian of the party of unsound mind, at any time before the death of either party
  • Fraud: By the party injured, within four years after the discovery of the facts constituting the fraud
  • Physically incapable: By the injured party, within four years after the marriage
  • Incest: By either party at any time

Legitimacy of Children

When a marriage is annulled, children begotten before the judgment are legitimate and succeed to the estate of both parents (N.D. Cent. Code § 14-04-03)

Prohibited Marriages

  • The following marriages are incestuous and void: (1) marriage between parents and children, including grandparents and grandchildren of every degree; (2) marriage between brothers and sisters of the half or whole blood; (3) marriage between uncles and nieces of half or whole blood; (4) marriage between aunts and nephews of the half or whole blood; (5) marriage between first cousins of half or whole blood (this section applies to illegitimate as well as legitimate children and relatives) (N.D. Cent. Code § 14-03-03)
  • A marriage contracted by a person having a former spouse living, if the former marriage has not been annulled or dissolved, is illegal and void from the beginning unless such former spouse was absent and believed to be dead for a period of five years immediately preceding such marriage (N.D. Cent. Code § 14-03-06)

Same-Sex Marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) established that bans on same-sex marriages in any state violated the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause, legalizing same-sex marriage in all of the United States. On December 13, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. also signed into law the Respect for Marriage Act, which codified laws related to protections for same-sex marriage.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

North Dakota Prohibited Marriage Laws: Related Resources

Next Steps: Speak to a Family Law Attorney

If you are considering annulling your marriage or have questions regarding its legitimacy, you should speak to a local family law attorney. An experienced attorney can view the specific facts of your case and give you legal advice using the relevant laws of your jurisdiction.

Get started by receiving a consultation from a North Dakota divorce attorney.

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