Jan 21

What to Know About Marital Abandonment

Most couples facing problems tend to solve this by trying marital counseling, opting for legal separation, or deciding there’s no way to resolve the issue except for divorce. However, there are some cases where individuals decide to sever their ties with the family altogether, and this is known as marital abandonment. With marital abandonment, one spouse doesn’t simply move out of the home, but they move out with no intent to return, no longer pay necessary support, and no desire to fulfill their responsibilities (whether financial or otherwise). Below are a few important things to know about marital abandonment.


It could be grounds for divorce.

If your spouse has abandoned you and your family, it may be grounds for divorce. Some states allow for at-fault divorces, and in these states, abandonment is considered a viable reason for divorce. The spouse claiming abandonment must provide certain documentation to prove abandonment took place, such as proof you didn’t cause the spouse’s departure, proof you didn’t agree to the separation, and proof they haven’t made any financial contribution to you or the family during this time. If you can prove these things, the court will likely rule in your favor and the divorce will be finalized.


There are different types of abandonment.

When most people hear the term “marital abandonment”, they tend to think of one spouse leaving the other. While this is true, there are other types of abandonment:

  • Constructive abandonment: This refers to when one spouse forces another spouse to leave due to bad behavior, such as physical/emotion abuse, infidelity, and offering no financial support. During this type of abandonment, the spouse who is suffering can file a petition with the courts to prove he/she had no other option but to leave the marriage.
  • Criminal abandonment: If you or your spouse suddenly decide to walk away from a spouse with serious health issues or suddenly refuse to provide care or protection for a child, that is a form of criminal abandonment. In these cases, the court will find the spouse who walked away financially responsible to support the child or the sick spouse.


It plays a role in the division of marital assets.

When it comes to divorce, the courts divide marital assets between spouses. However, in the event of marital abandonment, it could play a major role in the division of marital assets. For instance, if one spouse leaves and doesn’t remain financially responsible for the mortgage or bills, the court may rule in the favor of the spouse who was able to continue paying for the house/bills/etc. This may mean the spouse who walked away will not be entitled to any equity or assets that occurred during the marriage.


The abandoned spouse can still request support.

Although marital abandonment refers to one spouse walking away from their responsibilities, it’s still possible for the abandoned spouse to request support from the other one. Whether you’re looking for alimony or child support, you can still ask the court to grant this to you from the other party. Should the court rule in your favor, your spouse will now be legally responsible to provide this to you. If he or she ignores this court-ordered sanction, it puts them at risk of serving jail time for failure to comply. Oftentimes, this is enough to get the spouse to agree to the terms.


Martial abandonment is a serious issue that many people face, and it’s important to know your rights should you find yourself in this situation. By educating yourself, you can make a better case for yourself and know what’s legally available to you.