The Legal Process of Divorce After Abandonment

February 14, 2024by Adam Sacks

Divorce After Marital Abandonment


Marital abandonment is a situation where one spouse leaves the other without any intention of returning. Divorce after abandonment is often considered an option. Reasons for abandonment are vast, including infidelity, financial pressures, or simply a breakdown in the relationship. The abandonment may be physical, where one spouse moves out of the marital home, while in others it may be emotional, where one spouse withdraws from the relationship without physically leaving. [1]

The abandoned spouse may be entitled to seek a divorce on grounds of abandonment, which can affect the division of assets, child custody arrangements, and spousal support. In some jurisdictions, abandonment can also be considered a form of fault in the divorce, which can impact the outcome of the case.

The definition of abandonment can vary from state to state, so it’s important to understand the specific laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. Proving abandonment can be a complex and challenging process, as it requires demonstrating that the abandonment was willful and without justification.


How Long Does a Spouse Need to be Gone for it to Be Considered Abandonment in a Divorce Case?

Abandonment is a common ground for divorce in many states, but the length of time required for it to be legally recognized can vary. The time required for abandonment to be recognized can range from six months to a year, depending on the state laws.

To prove abandonment in a divorce case, the spouse filing for divorce must provide evidence that the other spouse left the marital home without consent and has been gone for the required period. This evidence can include witness statements, communication records, and financial support records.

How Long Does a Spouse Need to be Gone for it to Be Considered Abandonment in a Divorce Case?


Navigating the Legal Process of Divorce after Abandonment

Going through a divorce is never easy, but when one spouse has abandoned the other, the legal process can become even more complex.

Once abandonment has been established, the spouse who has been abandoned can begin the process of filing for divorce. This typically involves gathering evidence to support the claim of abandonment, such as witness statements, financial records, and any communication (or lack thereof) from the abandoning spouse. Documenting any attempts to reconcile or seek out the abandoning spouse is vital.

Abandonment can be used as grounds for a fault-based divorce, which may impact the division of marital property, spousal support, and child custody. Consult our knowledgeable attorney, who can advise on your area’s laws and procedures.


Child Custody Abandonment Concerns

The parent who was abandoned may have legitimate concerns about the well-being of their child in the care of the abandoning parent. They may worry about the emotional impact of abandonment on their child and have concerns about the abandoning parent’s ability to meet the child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs.

In the legal process of divorce after abandonment, these concerns are taken into consideration when determining the custody arrangement for the child. The court will prioritize the best interests of the child and consider factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, the ability of each parent to provide a stable and loving environment, and any history of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

In cases where one parent has abandoned the family, the court may be more likely to award primary custody to the parent who has been actively involved in the child’s life and has demonstrated the ability to meet the child’s needs. The abandoning parent may be granted visitation rights, supervised or restricted to ensure the child’s safety and well-being.


Financial Support After Abandonment

In many jurisdictions, when one spouse abandons the other, they may still have financial obligations to their abandoned spouse. This can include providing spousal support or alimony to help the abandoned spouse maintain their standard of living.

The amount of financial support will depend on a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, the earning potential of each spouse, and the financial needs of the abandoned spouse. The abandoned spouse may also be entitled to a fair division of marital assets and property. This can include the family home, financial accounts, and other assets acquired during the marriage.

The goal is to ensure that the abandoned spouse is not left in a significantly worse financial position as a result of the abandonment.

Financial Support After Abandonment


What Happens After Your Divorce?

In the case of abandonment, the spouse who was abandoned may be awarded a more favorable settlement in terms of asset division and support, as the abandonment may be considered a fault in the divorce. This will ultimately depend on the specific laws and regulations of the state in which the divorce takes place.

After the divorce is finalized, both parties must update their legal and financial documents to reflect their new marital status. This may include updating their wills, insurance policies, beneficiary designations, and changing their name if they choose to do so.

There is often a period of emotional adjustment after a divorce, especially after a marriage has ended due to abandonment. It is important for both parties to seek the support they need, whether that be through therapy, support groups, or talking to friends and family.


Have you been abandoned by your spouse and need help navigating the legal process of divorce?

Contact Sacks & Sacks today to schedule a free legal consultation.



[1] Smith, S. (2023, October 17). How Does Abandonment in Marriage Affect Divorce Issues? Marriage Advice – Expert Marriage Tips & Advice.

by Adam Sacks

Adam Sacks is lead Family Law Attorney at Law Offices of Sacks & Sacks, P.A. in Jacksonville, Florida. He has a BA in Psychology from 1994, and received his Juris Doctor Degree in 1999 from the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

Sacks and Sacks Law
1646 Emerson St. Suite B Jacksonville, FL 32207

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