Most couples enter into a marriage with the best of intentions. However, maintaining a marriage requires open communication and the ability to compromise through the best and worst of times.

When one spouse abruptly leaves the other, the remaining spouse must resolve any marital questions and decide how to move forward with their life.

What is Marriage Abandonment?

Marriage abandonment also called desertion, is when one spouse leaves the marriage without telling the other and with no intention of returning. In marriage abandonment, a spouse walks away from their financial obligations and all other contractual duties of marriage.

What is NOT Marriage Abandonment?

Marriage abandonment is not a form of mutual separation. Nor is it abandonment if one spouse makes it impossible for the other to remain in the marriage. This is referred to as constructive desertion.

Constructive desertion occurs when one spouse effectively forces the other spouse out of the home through misconduct or refusal to perform marital duties.

Is Marriage Abandonment Grounds for Divorce in California?

California is a no-fault divorce state. There are only two grounds for divorce in California: irreconcilable differences and incurable insanity. Therefore, it is unnecessary to prove spousal abandonment to procure a divorce.

Although the court does not accept evidence of abandonment as grounds for divorce, the court does consider abandonment when making rulings on property, spousal support, and child custody.

How to File for Divorce After Abandonment

In California, a spouse filing for divorce must attempt to locate and serve divorce documents on the other spouse to proceed with a divorce action. However, in abandonment cases, there are alternative means of serving a spouse who cannot be found using a legal process server.

For example, the court may approve service by publication. Service by publication requires filing a Declaration of Due Diligence with the court, including details of attempted legal service, and making a formal ex parte request to allow for service by publication.

After court approval, a notice of the divorce proceedings must run weekly for a minimum of four weeks in newspapers that the other spouse may see. Upon completion, the divorce proceedings can begin.

Spousal Support and Abandonment

A spouse who abandons their financial obligations and leaves their husband or wife in dire economic circumstances may be ordered to pay spousal support due to their actions.

Marital Property and Abandonment

California is a community property state. This means all marital assets and debts belong equally to the spouses. Upon divorce, marital assets and debts are typically divided equally between the two.

However, the court can consider abandonment when awarding marital property and debt to the spouses. A spouse who abandons their financial obligations and family could sacrifice some or all of their share of marital assets. They may also be awarded a more significant portion of any marital debt.

Child Custody and Abandonment

Abandonment of minor dependent children will be considered in any child custody or visitation ruling. A parent who abandons their children will likely receive minimal visitation and a larger child support payment than a parent who shares joint legal and physical child custody.

Termination of Parental Rights and Abandonment

A parent may also lose their parental rights for abandoning their children.

Parents may have their rights taken away all together when they have:

  • Provided no financial support for their child
  • Had little or no contact with their child for over a year
  • Had the intent to abandon their child

This includes the termination of any visitation.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney Today

If your spouse abandons you and your marriage, get help right away. The Los Angeles divorce attorneys at Fernandez & Karney can explain your legal options to you and help you start the filing process.

Fernandez & Karney are skilled, compassionate, and recognized in family law. Let us guide you through your divorce and into your new life.

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