What Is Marital Abandonment?

By Jim Warren


Some of the most frequent questions we receive at Warren Family Law, especially in the context of separation and divorce, surround the concept of abandonment. The concept of abandonment is applicable when one spouse leaves the other, and the act is unjustified, without the other spouse’s content, or is done with the intent of renewing cohabitation.

People sometimes only know what they’ve heard, and they usually haven’t heard from an attorney or judge, so they think that if you leave your spouse, under almost any circumstance, you’ll hurt your interests in the divorce proceedings. This simply isn’t true—let me give you some things to consider.

Domestic Violence

A domestic violence situation is the most extreme circumstance. If you and/or your child are the victims of spousal or child abuse, get out of the home and get help immediately. No one—the courts nor its officers—want you to stay in an unsafe situation. It’s perfectly fine, acceptable, and advisable for you to leave for a safe haven—a relative or friend’s home, or a shelter for abused spouses—before litigating the particulars of your divorce.

Constructive Abandonment

You can see from the term itself that the statutes have placed a positive context on certain abandonment actions. Spouses don’t have to be violent to make your life intolerable. They can be emotionally abusive, neglectful, or put you in financial harm.  A family law attorney focused on divorce law can offer you the advice you need to determine if constructive abandonment applies to your circumstances.

Children and Home

Where abandonment may come into play quite specifically is with regard to child custody and the marital home. If you walk out on your children, without a plan to provide for them or co-parent with your spouse, you could be putting yourself in a difficult situation if your absence in the lives of your children continues. If your children are in the home and are in danger, you should of course leave and leave with them. Otherwise, speak to a divorce attorney to know your rights and protect your interests with regard to your children.

If you leave the family home and your spouse continues to live there, if you are the primary bread-winner, you can reasonably expect to have to stay away from the home and keep paying for the home (mortgage, insurance, taxes, utilities, etc.), while your case makes its way through court and equitable distribution and the fate of the home are taken into account and settled. Again, you should speak to a divorce attorney, who can paint you a roadmap for your situation based on the actions you can take, protecting your interests to the fullest.

If you are considering leaving your spouse, it’s either time to talk to the authorities (during times of domestic violence) or get legal help. At Warren Family Law, we will fight for you. Call us today and get the counsel you need to make the right decisions.