What Is Spousal Abandonment?

In the State of Georgia, some divorces are fault-based, and one ground for a fault-based divorce is spousal abandonment, which is also called desertion. Desertion, in essence, refers to when one spouse unilaterally leaves the marital home for a full year (at a minimum). Let’s take a closer look, and if you have questions or concerns related to spousal abandonment (or any other family law matter), reach out to an experienced Georgia family law attorney

Simply Moving out of the House Prior to Divorce Probably Won’t Qualify

For a move to qualify as spousal abandonment, certain elements must be present, including:

  • The spouse who left must have done so without obtaining the consent of the other spouse.
  • The spouse who left must have lived somewhere other than the family home for at least one year prior to the divorce filing.
  • The spouse claiming that the other abandoned must be able to demonstrate that the spouse who left showed a willful refusal to continue living together and intended the move to be a marital separation.
  • The spouse who left acted without justification for doing so.

In other words, spousal abandonment requires the spouse who leaves to intend to abandon the marriage. A move related to a job relocation, a military deployment, or another kind of marital obligation will not qualify (without the intention of abandonment). Typically, demonstrating your spouse’s intent will boil down to showing correspondence between the two of you that highlights such intent.

How Spousal Abandonment Can Affect Your Divorce

If you establish that your spouse abandoned you and your marriage, it can have far-reaching implications for your divorce, including:

  • Abandoning the marital home can mean your divorcing spouse will have less claim to it when it comes time to divide your marital property equitably. Both occupancy of the home and financial contribution to the home will be factored into this equation.
  • Abandoning the marital home can also play a role in child custody decisions. If your spouse left you but continued his or her obligations to your shared children, his or her actions shouldn’t affect his custody rights. By moving out of the family home, however, he or she may push the needle toward you becoming the primary custodial parent – since the court is motivated by the best interests of the children and often finds that maintaining the status quo is preferable.

It’s important to point out that every divorce is as unique as the family involved, but abandonment is naturally frowned upon by the court, can lead to a fault-based divorce, and could lead to divorce terms that favor your position.

Consult with an Experienced Georgia Family Law Attorney Today

Divorce is complicated, and spousal abandonment can make it more so. The dedicated family law attorneys at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland in both Forsyth County and Cumming are committed to employing their impressive experience and resources in pursuit of divorce terms that support your rights. Your case is important, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 770-887-1209 for more information today.