What Is Abandonment Divorce?
It’s important to understand the distinction between what is ‘lawful separation’ and the grounds for divorce that constitute something commonly referred to as abandonment divorce.
The Basis for a ‘Legal Separation’
First off, in many cases regarding divorce, separation is common. Many times a husband or wife may simply move out of the home freely even before divorce has been finalized, but it doesn’t constitute an ‘abandonment divorce’ for obvious reasons:
1. Both Parties Agree to It
This almost goes without saying, really. It technically doesn’t apply to an abandonment divorce if both parties consent to it. Whether or not that can be proved? That’s an entirely different story. Although in most cases it doesn’t really matter whether or not it’s a ‘legal separation’ or ‘abandonment divorce’ as it results in the same outcome.
2. Sexual Relations Continue
This is an especially detailed piece of legal information but also a huge different between an abandonment divorce and a legal separation. If it’s shown that both spouses are living separately but still maintaining a sexual relationship with each other, there can be no abandonment divorce ordered. True abandonment – more often known as ‘desertion’ – is when one party in a marriage completely cuts off the other physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually without the other’s consent.
3. The Abandonment Is Unintentional
This applies toward military families or in cases where kidnapping is involved, in that there are times when soldiers are stationed that they become missing in action, or spouses are kidnapped and go missing. In that case, an abandonment divorce can’t be ordered on the fact that the spouse did not intend to abandon his or her spouse. This, however, can lead to the very last stipulation when dealing with abandonment in divorce….
4. The Vanishing Spouse Returns Within a Period of Time as Allowed by Law to Maintain the Marriage
For some states, when one party in a marriage disappears unintentionally, if that party to the marriage then returns, that party must return within a period of seven years, or else the other party can deem the missing party presumed dead. In addition, reasonable attempts to find the missing party to the marriage would be required as evidence to the court to establish a ruling stating a presumption of death on the missing party. However, if the missing party returns even after the seven years, the marriage then continues by law. There are, however, some states that may even terminate the marriage completely after a certain period of time where one party is completely missing, even if the party returns eventually.
Basic Mandates for Abandonment in Divorce
Some states require that abandonment continue for a certain period of time – anywhere between one year to five years – before a court can order a ruling on abandonment.
Moreover, the proof of separation must be completely uninterrupted and continuous. This simply means that a spouse can be charged with abandonment if never contacting the other spouse in any way for that period of time as stated by law.