What Do I Need to Know About Marital Abandonment?

February 23, 2021

Marital abandonment takes place when one person abruptly severs their relationship with their spouse. The person not only walks out on the other spouse, but they also ignore their obligations to their family, including any financial or emotional support they should be providing.

A victim of marital abandonment might feel alone and stressed over how they will be able to continue to live without the support of their former spouse. For the person that does leave their marital obligations, the courts can still force them to take on their responsibilities, especially if there are minor children involved. The consequences of marital abandonment depend upon the state where the incident occurred. States that offer fault divorce treat abandonment different than the states that offer no-fault divorce.

Is Pennsylvania a No-Fault or Fault Divorce State?

Pennsylvania is a unique state in that it allows both no-fault and fault divorce. When a spouse is the victim of marital abandonment, it can be grounds for divorce. If a spouse is seeking a fault divorce, the person who has been abandoned is under the obligation to prove to a judge that their ex-spouse was the one that abandoned them. However, it can be difficult to prove abandonment in court.

Since the state allows for no-fault divorces, it might be easier for the person to just file for a divorce. Going through the nuances of the situation can be difficult, so one should hire an experienced divorce lawyer who can understand the process and determine the best course of action.

What are the Different Types of Marital Abandonment?

The type of marital abandonment will have an impact on the results of the divorce. The two types of marital abandonment are criminal abandonment and constructive abandonment. Criminal abandonment takes place when one person stops providing care, protection, or support for their spouse who is suffering from an illness or if there is a minor child involved. Under constructive abandonment, a person must prove to a judge that the spouse has made life unbearable for them, so they had to abandon the marriage. This can be true in cases of infidelity, domestic abuse, and criminal activity.

Does Marital Abandonment Impact Child Custody?

If a spouse engages in criminal abandonment, the impact on child custody will be significant. The abandoning spouse could lose custody of their child or have limits on their visitation privileges. To prevent this situation from taking place, there should be a child custody agreement in place ahead of time.

Even though a person could lose custody of their children if they abandon their marriage, that does not mean they will not have any responsibilities to the children. Their financial obligations are still intact, and a court can still force the person to pay child support. The same is true for a spouse who depended on financial support. If a person chooses to walk away from a marriage, they may have to pay alimony or other support payments to the spouse.

What Happens to the House After Marital Abandonment?

The house and any other property that a couple shares will remain under their joint control to a certain extent. The person who abandons the marriage still has claim to the property and the interest. The remaining partner still lives there and can make decisions on changes to the house both cosmetically and structurally. The spouse also has a right to privacy in the home. The former spouse needs to honor their ex-partner’s privacy rights.

If one is facing marital abandonment, a lawyer can help. A lawyer will help ensure the former spouse pays whatever support that is needed.

Chester County Family Law Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Represent Clients in Marital Abandonment Situations

If you need support after marital abandonment, a Chester County family law lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. can help you with your case. We understand how marital abandonment can be traumatic, and we will help you get a fair settlement. Call us at 610-565-3701 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.