Marriages take a lot of work and there is no doubt that relationships can go through difficult times. When times get tough, various things can happen – temporary separation, divorce, and in some cases just quitting and walking out. When one spouse decides to call it quits and does so at the detriment of the other spouse, it’s called marital abandonment. This can be a puzzling and emotional time for both people in the marriage, so here is helpful information to help navigate through some of the details.
What types of marital abandonment are there?
#1: Criminal abandonment:
When one spouse stops providing the protection, care or support of a spouse that is living with health issues or children under age 18 without just cause, this is considered criminal abandonment. For example, if your spouse has cancer and you don’t want to be the caretaker, the court will not recognize this as grounds for divorce. You can still get a divorce, but you will still be held financially responsible for helping provide the care needed for the other person, even if you aren’t the one to serve as the caretaker.
#2: Constructive abandonment:
If you are unable to endure life with your spouse because of the awful circumstances he/she puts you through and you are able to prove to the court that leaving the marriage was your only way out, this will be considered constructive abandonment. In addition, a spouse can be given “just cause” to abandon the marriage for any of these reasons, but they must be proven in court:
- Domestic abuse or violence
- Withholding sexual intercourse
- Denying or refusing financial support
Men and women are not forced to stay together in this day in age. But, marital abandonment can be very difficult to prove, especially because divorce is very easy to get. If the person that abandons the marriage leaves and doesn’t want to return, that is deemed acceptable, but there will still be things that he or she will be held responsible for, including spousal or child support, as well as dividing up the property. When it comes to the legal ins and outs of finances or property division, this will usually be completed through a divorce court order.
If you have walked the road of marital abandonment or if you are considering your option to leave a marriage, think through the legal aspects of the situation and if you have any questions, contact an experienced divorce attorney that can get you the information and documentation you need.
Jason writes for Spencer & Sundstrom, a family law firm. Nothing above is meant to be construed as legal advice.