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Abandonment in Divorce

A Brief Overview of the Various Aspects of Abandonment in Divorce

Abandonment is one of the grounds for a fault-based divorce. This article provides a brief overview about the various aspects of abandonment in divorce.
Sonia Nair
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
In most parts of the world, you need the sanction of the court to end a marriage. In other words, getting divorce is a legal process initiated by one of the spouses or both, so as to end their marital union. Once you decide that the best way to get out of a troubled marriage is divorce, you have to decide the best course of action. Basically, actions seeking divorce can be categorized into two - no fault divorce and fault divorce. While a no-fault divorce does not require the party seeking divorce to prove any fault on the part of the other; in case of a fault divorce, the party has to prove at least one of the grounds of fault, as per the law of that particular region.
Abandonment or desertion is one of the traditional and still valid grounds for obtaining a fault divorce in some states. While a no-fault divorce is the most common form of divorce action, some states allow divorce actions to be filed on the basis of grounds of fault. Even the grounds for divorce in this category may vary from one state to another.
What is Abandonment?
Abandonment is one of the traditional grounds for divorce and still remains to be a valid ground for divorce in many countries, that recognize fault divorce. Abandonment in divorce can be defined as the action of a spouse who leaves the marital house, without the consent of the other, and with the intent of never returning to that house. While the terms abandonment and desertion are used interchangeably, in some states, both are considered different.
In such states, desertion refers to the action of a spouse who leaves the marital house with the intention of ending the marriage and abandonment denotes the unreasonable absence of the spouse for a certain period (without intimating the other). Some states have a much wider interpretation for abandonment in divorce. Failure of a spouse to support the other financially or refusal to engage in sexual relations with the other, are also included in the ambit of abandonment, as far as divorce actions are concerned.
Abandonment in Divorce
Unlike a no-fault divorce, a fault divorce has various requirements. If you are planning for a fault divorce, you must have a basic understanding about its various aspects. First of all, the state where you live, must recognize a fault divorce and abandonment. Another requirement is that, you have to prove abandonment; and for that, you need evidence. Apart from proving that your spouse has left the marital home, there must be further proof to show that, there were no reasons for him/her to leave. The court must be fully gratified by the fact that, the spouse has abandoned all marital obligations, since the date he left the house.
In fact, some states require proof regarding the effort of the applicant to save the marriage. The time period of abandonment is also important in case of a divorce; in other words, the time from which the spouse left the house till the other one resorts to an action for divorce. Each state has a stipulated period of time, so that the action of the spouse can be considered as abandonment. In some states, it is one year; whereas in others, it is two years.
Even though, the burden of proof (proving the alleged fault - in this case, abandonment) lies on the person seeking divorce, there are some people who pursue a fault divorce. This may be to avoid the period of trial separation, which is required in other types of divorce; or for getting more alimony by proving the other person's fault. However, the procedure for a fault divorce can be messier, as compared to a no-fault divorce. It is always better to seek the help of an expert divorce lawyer, before making any decision.