Chapter 02 - Divorce and Annulment

Chapter 02 - Divorce and Annulment

42.0201 Definitions.


As used in this chapter, “petition” includes cross-petition, and “petitioner” includes cross-petitioner.

42.0202 Grounds for divorce.


The High Court may dissolve any marriage contract and grant a decree of divorce, or may grant a decree of judicial separation, for any one of the following causes:

(1) adultery;

(2) habitual cruelty or ill usage;

(3) desertion for 6 months or more;

(4) sentence to imprisonment for a term of 10 or more years or for life;

(5) voluntary continuous separation for a period of 5 years or more.

(6) irreconcilable differences.

42.0203 Grounds for annulment.


The High Court may annul any marriage which was illegally contracted.

42.0204 Application for separation or dissolution.


(a) Application for judicial separation or for dissolution of a marriage contract on any ground set out in 42.0202 and 42.0203 may be made by either husband or wife by a petition to the court.

(b) Service shall be had upon the respondent as required by law.

42.0205 Examination and evidence by court.


The court shall examine all parties and witnesses and shall take all evidence, as far as it reasonably can, not only as to the facts alleged in the petition, but also as to whether or not the petitioner has been in any manner an accessory to the offense alleged, has connived with the respondent in the commission of the offense alleged, or has condoned the same. The court may also inquire into any countercharge which may be made against the petitioner and upon conclusion of all the testimony in the suit or proceeding, the court shall determine the issue therein upon the merits.

42.0206 Dismissal following presentation of evidence.


(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), the petition shall be dismissed if upon the evidence presented the court finds any of the following:

(1) that it has not been established that either the petitioner or respondent has been a bona fide and continuous resident of American Samoa for at least one year next preceding the commencement of the action or proceeding;

(2) that the petitioner has failed to prove the charge alleged in the petition;

(3) that the petitioner has, during the marriage, been an accessory to the offense, or connived with the respondent in the offense alleged in the petition;

(4) that the petitioner has been guilty of collusion with the respondent in presenting the petition or in the trial of the action or proceeding;

(5) that the petitioner has condoned the act or acts complained of in the petition.

(b) If the petitioner seeks a divorce under paragraph (5) of 42.0202, then paragraphs (a) (3) through (a) (5) are not grounds for dismissal of the petition.

42.0207 Presumption of condonation.


Condonation may be presumed in all matrimonial actions and proceedings by the voluntary cohabitation of the parties with the knowledge of the offense charged.

42.0208 Grant of separation or dissolution.


If the court is satisfied from the evidence presented that the case of the petitioner has been proved, and finds that there is no legal ground why the petition should not be granted, the court may decree judicial separation or dissolution of the marriage accordingly.

42.0209 Order for maintenance.


When the divorce, separation or annulment is granted, the court may make an order for the maintenance of either party it deems proper and just under the circumstances.

42.0210 Custody of minor children.


When the divorce, separation or annulment is granted, the court may make a division of, or order with respect to, the property of either or both of the parties as it deems fair and proper and order for the custody, care, maintenance and support of the minor children of the parties.

42.0211 Restoration of maiden name.


When the divorce, separation or annulment is granted, the court may restore to the woman the name used by her prior to the marriage when so requested.