Abandonment grounds for divorce california

In some cases, requiring a spouse to live with intrusive or abusive in-laws was held to be constructive desertion, as was refusing to relocate to a new town or state. In the case of sexual relations, constructive abandonment means a spouse leaves the marriage in spirit by refusal to have sexual relations. In sexual desertion, which is considered a fault ground, the party charging it must prove abandonment, generally for one year, during which the spouses may share the same roof but presumably not the same bed.

Constructive abandonment is a form of abandonment used as a ground for divorce, and it may also be considered a form of cruel and inhumane treatment. Some years ago, a newspaper story described the marriage of an aging movie star and her husband. Though still legally married, he lived in one wing of their enormous house; she lived in the other, and they both entertained their separate and individual circles of friends in the common rooms on a reservation basis.

This is probably a creative example of desertion, sexual and physical as well as by consent. Without a doubt, constructive abandonment could be the grounds for divorce in many marriages where it is not used for obvious reasons.

Grounds for Divorce in California | DivorceNet

As grounds for fault divorce, sexual desertion means laying bare very personal details of two private lives. Just leaving by mutual agreement is not a divorce.


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An agreement to separate may be a preliminary for a no-fault divorce, but just leaving is not. For example, when the husband and wife separate on a trial basis, both may agree to it, but a trial separation -- one sometimes undertaken to take stock of the marriage -- is not grounds for a divorce in itself.

Grounds for Divorce

Desertion must meet certain criteria, and most but not all states consider it a ground for divorce. Desertion, like adultery, is a difficult route to divorce, and like adultery not used much. In general, most states require the plaintiff or petitioner, the party who is abandoned, prove that the defendant or respondent left the home for more than one year, did so without the agreement of the spouse, failed to pay support and that the reason for the departure was not caused by the plaintiff or petitioner.

Abandonment or desertion means that neither the husband nor the wife refuse the duties and obligations associated with the marriage.

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Abandonment is not the same as a woman fleeing domestic violence in a crisis, nor it is the same as a man announcing his intentions to divorce his wife and then moving out. Like many facets of marital and family law, abandonment has two sides. This is particularly true when there are children because it may be much more difficult for the person who left to make a strong case that he or she is a fit parent if he or she walked away for a significant period of time.

The two people live as ships passing in the night. One spouse pays for everything, and the other contributes nothing at all. In some states one of the traditional grounds for divorce was nonsupport. In these states, a husband was required to support his wife.

Some states still have this ground in the state statutes.

Grounds for Divorce in California

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Within a legal context, spousal abandonment refers to the deliberate abandonment of a spouse without the intention of returning. The abandoning spouse has severed all ties and responsibility to his or her family. He or she has, in effect, walked away from the family and all related financial obligations and support without a good reason. Abandoning and failing to provide care for a dependent ailing spouse or minor children is considered criminal spousal abandonment.

A spouse is also not free to refuse to support any children from the marriage.

What Are Abandonment and Desertion Laws?

Legally, minor children must be provided for. This is called constructive abandonment. A spouse will not be forced to remain in such a situation, However, these claims must be proven in a court. And the abandoning spouse remains responsible for both child and spousal support. A separation where one spouse moves into another residence as a possible prelude to a divorce is not spousal abandonment, as long as the spouse continues to honor his or her financial obligations to the family. A spouse who leaves the marital home after an argument and remains gone for days or even weeks has not legally abandoned the spouse if he or she returns.

Spousal abandonment is a desertion without cause that continues for a specific length of time, usually one year. Both the abandoned spouse, as well as the abandoning spouse, will feel the financial effects of spousal abandonment. A spouse who has been abandoned might face severe financial difficulties. Whether or not he or she has filed for a divorce, divorce laws in most states allow for the filer to request maintenance.

In such a situation, the address of the abandoning spouse would have to be known. While the abandoning spouse has not given up any property rights, the abandoned spouse can use any or all of the property within the marital home, including selling it. The abandoning spouse still has a claim on the marital home itself. Once spousal abandonment has been established, however, he or she should not expect to be able to return to the property without a problem.

The short answer is “No”.

The abandoned spouse has a right to change any locks and make access difficult. He or she can also control what happens to the furniture and other items in the house. One day, you and your spouse are celebrating an anniversary or enjoying a special dinner out. The next day, he or she leaves for work or runs errands as usual.

What are the Grounds for Divorce in California?

After you have frantically determined that there has been no accident, you realize you have been abandoned. You probably have no idea why or what happened. Abandoning spouses can be extremely good at not revealing their plans. The first reaction is probably utter disbelief as you wonder what happened. You never saw this coming. He or she seemed attentive and loving, and now you find yourself alone. Unfortunately, abandonment happens, and it is usually devastating. You go over every single moment of the past trying to understand where you went wrong.

When there are no answers, you may find yourself sinking further and further into depression. Spousal abandonment is all about loss. You need to allow yourself to grieve. A huge part of your identity was wrapped up in loving someone and being a spouse.


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Even if there were problems in the marriage, at least the spouse was there, at home. You were able to communicate your frustrations. That is no longer possible. It will be difficult to deal with the emotional aspects of spousal abandonment on your own. If at all possible, find a sympathetic counselor to talk to. This will enable you to release a lot of the grief, as well as provide you with some desperately needed emotional support. Then, work on the realities of the situation.

Discuss your financial situation with an attorney. If your spouse has left you in dire financial straits, see if you can sue for maintenance for yourself and your children.

These days, all states recognize no-fault divorces. Contrary to 50 years ago, it is no longer necessary to air the marital dirty laundry in public. However, spousal abandonment is the second leading cause of fault divorce. A spouse can claim abandonment if the other spouse has left without discussion or any plans for support and payments for mortgages and other necessities. A divorce based on abandonment cannot be filed immediately following the act of desertion. Most states require that an entire year has passed since the abandoning spouse has disappeared from the marital home.