When you think of someone abandoning their marriage, you may think of the husband or wife getting up and leaving the house, never to return. While this is a common form of abandonment, marital abandonment can happen in other ways, as well. If one spouse is actively taking steps to stop supporting a partner and children physically, emotionally, and financially, then the desertion has begun.
When it comes to divorce, Florida is a no-fault state. This means that a couple can divorce at any time and not have to claim a reason to do so. However, some couples file for fault divorces because they think it will benefit them more, especially when alimony and child custody and support are involved. In some cases, it does, but proving fault can be quite difficult. It can also be more costly and time-consuming.
To prove abandonment in a divorce, one party has the burden of proving that the other party abandoned the marriage for a period of 12 consecutive months. The abandonment must also be willful or malicious, with no chance of the parties reuniting and staying married. The desertion can occur in various ways and does not have to be solely physical in nature.
Types of Abandonment
There are two main types of marital abandonment – actual and constructive. One is physical, while the other is emotional. Actual abandonment is probably what you most associate with the term “abandonment.” It means that one spouse has left the home and never returned. Even if a person leaves his or her possessions behind and physically leaves, this is still considered abandonment.
This type of abandonment is criminal in nature, since a person is obligated to financially take care of their children. You can not simply take off and never see or support your children ever again, although unfortunately many parents do. Also, if your spouse is ill and unable to financially care for him or herself, and you abandon your spouse, this will be frowned upon since you are considered the person’s caretaker. Even if you leave, you will still be required to financially support your spouse.
Constructive abandonment is emotional in nature. It occurs when one spouse makes life unbearable for the other spouse. A person would have the right to leave his or her marriage if a spouse engaged in behaviors such as withholding sex, engaging in infidelity, abuse, and withholding money. If a couple never communicates and one party does not contribute financially, leaving the other to work multiple jobs to pay for expenses, that could be considered a form of abandonment. Constructive abandonment is often viewed as cruel and inhumane treatment.
What to Know About Abandonment
It can be difficult to understand what is and what is not abandonment. What if you are a woman who is being beaten by your husband? Would leaving the home constitute abandonment? No, because this is considered a crisis situation. In situations in which your life is at risk, safety is of utmost importance. You would not be forced to stay in an abusive home, nor would you be considered at fault in any way for making the decision to leave.
If one spouse moves for a job, for example, an the other spouse decides to stay put, that is not considered abandonment. It could, however, cause marital problems that eventually lead to divorce.
Also, if you decide you want a divorce and then move out, that is not abandonment. However, you must then move forward with a divorce. You can not stay married without providing any support to a spouse and children. Simply leaving the marital home does not start the divorce process. Nor does a mutual separation. In either case, you will still be obligated to provide financial support for your children and possibly the other spouse, as well.
Depending on your situation, leaving your home could have legal repercussions. This could negatively impact your divorce case, especially if children are involved. It will be hard to convince the judge that you are a fit parent when you deserted your children. As a result, you could lose out on your rights to custody.
To prevent this from happening, contact a lawyer as soon as you leave the home. By continuing to provide financial support to the children and spending time with them, you can preserve your rights in a divorce.
Divorce is not illegal, and in Florida, a couple can divorce at any time for any reason, so there is no reason to abandon a marriage. If a person no longer wants to be married, their best bet is to start the divorce process. Contact a lawyer to understand the process and learn about your legal rights. Abandoning or deserting your family will come with negative consequences, no matter the situation. You could lose out on your home and it could affect child custody matters.
Seek Legal Help
It is important to understand the term abandonment and how it applies to marriage and divorce. If you stop trying to save your marriage and essentially quit doing what is expected of you, you could be accused of abandonment. This could have negative consequences, especially when children are involved.
If your marriage is slowly dying, do not just get up and leave. Make sure to seek legal help first. You need to protect your rights and Palm Beach divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can help. He can help you with the next steps so you do not lose out on your home and child custody. To get started, call (954) 346-6464 today.