Is it possible to charge a spouse with abandonment?

There is no straightforward answer to this question, as the laws and legal definitions of abandonment vary from state to state. However, it is generally possible to charge a spouse with abandonment in most states if they intend to leave the marriage without good reason and without providing financial support or access to any shared assets. Furthermore, abandonment can also be considered grounds for divorce in some states.

What factors influence whether or not a spouse can be charged with abandonment?

Intention to leave

One critical factor determining whether a spouse can be charged with abandonment is their intention to leave the marriage without good reason. For example, suppose a spouse has decided to end the marriage for valid and reasonable reasons, such as an extramarital affair or a fundamental disagreement over raising children. In that case, they are generally not considered to have abandoned their partner.

Financial support and access to assets

In addition to demonstrating an intention to abandon the marriage, you must be able to show that the abandoning spouse has failed to provide financial support or access to shared assets or property. If a spouse leaves home but continues contributing financially or making arrangements for shared assets, they cannot typically be accused of abandonment.

Duration of the abandonment

The duration of the abandonment is also crucial in determining whether a spouse can be charged with abandonment. If a partner leaves home for a few weeks or months but then returns, they are generally not considered to have abandoned their spouse. However, if the period of separation exceeds one year, this may be viewed as evidence of intent to abandon and could qualify as grounds for divorce in some states.

Reasonable attempts to reconcile

If the spouse who has been abandoned makes reasonable attempts to resolve the conflict and bring their partner back into the marriage, this typically negates any accusation of abandonment. For example, it might be considered unreasonable if a husband or wife refuses to meet with their partner or work out their differences. On the other hand, if one person repeatedly asks their spouse to return home but is refused each time, they may have grounds for divorce based on abandonment.

Emotional and psychological abuse

It is essential to consider whether the spouse who has been abandoned has experienced emotional or psychological abuse from their partner. If so, this may further bolster any claim of abandonment and make it more likely that a legal action will be successful.

How do you go about charging a spouse with abandonment?

Gather evidence of abandonment

The first step in charging your spouse with abandonment is to gather evidence about their intention to leave and the duration of their absence. It may include written or verbal statements from your partner, records of any attempts at reconciliation, text messages or emails that demonstrate a lack of support, and so on.

Consult a lawyer

Once you have gathered sufficient evidence of abandonment, consulting a lawyer specializing in family law or divorce proceedings is essential. Your lawyer can help you determine whether there is a strong case for charging your spouse with abandonment based on the factors listed above, and they can advise you on how best to proceed with legal action. These lawyers will know abandoned spouse rights best. 

File for divorce or other legal action

Suppose your lawyer determines that you have a strong case for charging your spouse with abandonment. In that case, the next step will be formally initiating divorce proceedings or legal action. It may include filing a petition with the court or seeking restraining orders against your partner. Depending on the circumstances and state laws, other avenues may be available to address this issue, such as pursuing criminal charges against your spouse. Ultimately, it is crucial to work with an experienced lawyer who can help guide you through this process and give you the best chance of success in court.

Prepare for any legal hearings or trials

If your case goes to trial, you must be fully prepared with all the evidence and arguments necessary to support your claim. It may require working closely with your lawyer to review documents, prepare witness testimonies, and so on. Additionally, it is essential to remain calm and professional throughout this process to present yourself as a credible and reliable witness in court. With good preparation, a solid case, and an experienced lawyer, you can help ensure that your spouse is successfully charged with abandonment and held accountable for their actions.

Accept the outcome, whatever it may be

Even if you are ultimately unsuccessful in charging your spouse with abandonment, remember that this is not the end of the road. You can still pursue other options for addressing the issue, such as seeking a divorce and moving on with your life. Whatever happens, keep positive and focus on what is best for you and any children involved. With patience, perseverance, and determination, you can move forward from this challenging situation and put yourself on a path toward healing and happiness.​