Skip to main content

Spousal Abandonment: What Happens if I Leave?

By December 18, 2019February 17th, 2023Agreements, Child Custody, Child support, Collaborative, Divorce
Untitled design 7

We have all seen the movie where someone shockingly comes home to an empty house, only to find a note from their spouse that says “I’m leaving.” While this scenario may sound like a cliché, spousal abandonment is more common than you think.

Like many facets of family law, abandonment has two sides. Spousal abandonment, also known as desertion, refers to the deliberate abandonment of a spouse with the intention of ending the marriage and without justification. In order to be granted an absolute divorce in Maryland on the ground of desertion, the desertion has to continue for 12 months, without interruption.

Alternatively, constructive desertion refers to a situation where the other spouse forces you to leave the marital home through their intolerable behavior, which could include abuse or cruelty.

In order to be granted a divorce in Maryland on the ground of desertion or abandonment, the following must be proven:

  • The deserting spouse intended to end the marriage
  • Cohabitation has ended
  • The spouse that left did so without justification
  • The spouse that remains in the marital home did not consent to the separation
  • There is no hope of reconciliation between the parties
  • The desertion has continued without interruption for 12 months.

Many couples in Maryland that have mutually decided to end their marriage are concerned that if either of them voluntarily leaves the marital home it may be used against them in court and be considered abandonment. However, if you and your spouse are in agreement with terminating your marriage you can sign a separation agreement that formalizes the terms of your agreement and pursue an uncontested divorce in Maryland based on mutual consent, without a 12-month waiting period.

If you are considering divorce but are not quite sure where to begin, contact Jacobson Family Law and schedule a consultation with us today.