Spousal abandonment occurs when a spouse walks away from a marriage and its legal, contractual commitments without terminating the marriage in the family court. Spousal abandonment can take different forms. A spouse may vanish, though this is difficult with today’s technology, withdraw any assets and financial support from the other, or move away and choose to neglect their partner and their children.

Although marital abandonment has no effect on how a divorce is filed in California, it can affect the divorce process. The following is an overview of the impact of marital abandonment on a California divorce. For case-specific information, contact an experienced Los Angeles divorce attorney.

Marriage is a Legally Binding Contract

Marriage is a legally binding contract in which two people pledge to support each other. When a couple marries, any assets and debts acquired during the marriage become the shared responsibility of the spouses. When a spouse abandons their partner, they breach the marital contract and jeopardize their spouse.

Abandonment and Grounds for Divorce in California

Abandonment was historically a popular grounds for divorce. However, it is no longer necessary to file for divorce in California due to grounds or spousal fault. California permits divorce for “irreconcilable differences.” Divorcing based upon irreconcilable differences is also known as a no-fault divorce.

In a no-fault divorce, neither spouse is forced to take responsibility or blame for the end of the marriage. This saves divorcing spouses time and money in trying to prove fault. However, with few exceptions, judges cannot consider spousal behavior when allocating marital property.

The benefit to a no-fault divorce is that an abandoned spouse can file and proceed with a divorce quickly and without proving grounds.

Taking Legal Action After Abandonment

If your spouse has withdrawn support from you and your children during your marriage, take legal action to secure your assets right away. California is a community property state. Spouses share legal ownership of all property and assets acquired during the marriage.

This includes:

  • The marital residence and its contents;
  • Vehicles;
  • Bank accounts;
  • Retirement accounts (401K); and
  • Life insurance and other types of investment accounts.

Often you will need the help of an experienced family law attorney to petition the family court for a legal separation or a divorce to protect yourself and your children. Your family law attorney can discuss additional support available in your circumstances, like spousal support and child support.

An Experienced California Attorney Can Help

If you were abandoned by your spouse, do not wait to speak with an experienced attorney like ours at Fernandez & Karney. We can guide you through the appropriate process for your legal separation or divorce while protecting your legal rights and assets.

Schedule a consultation with one of our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys today. At Fernandez & Karney, we look forward to answering your question about spousal abandonment and addressing your concerns about asset division, spousal support, child support, and other critical issues.