What is Spousal Abandonment?
Spousal abandonment occurs when one spouse ends cohabitation without justification or provocation, without consent of the other party, and without any intent to resume cohabitation or the marital relationship. All three of these elements must occur in order to prove spousal abandonment. The issue of spousal abandonment typically arises in situations where one party is asserting a claim for post-separation support or alimony. North Carolina is a “no-fault divorce” state, so a showing of abandonment is not required to obtain a divorce.
What is Constructive Abandonment?
Constructive abandonment occurs when one spouse does not physically leave the home, but instead fails to fulfill the obligations of the marriage and has become mentally and emotionally absent from the marriage. These acts typically provoke the other spouse to leave the marriage.
What is Not Considered Spousal Abandonment?
If you have a lawful excuse to leave your spouse, such as in domestic violence situations, adultery, or alcohol or drug use, it is not considered to be abandonment if you leave to escape a dangerous situation. If both spouses implicitly agree to live separately, it is not abandonment. If one spouse temporarily moves out of the home for reasons such as military leave, taking care of a sick relative, or for work purposes, it may not be viewed as abandonment. Overall, every person’s situation is unique and different, so determining whether abandonment has occurred is typically on a case-by-case basis. If you have concerns about abandonment in your domestic case, it may be beneficial to talk to an attorney with family law experience to determine how it could impact your case.
If you or someone you know is in need of legal counseling, contact one of Hatcher Law Group’s experienced family law attorneys today.