How Can You Declare a Divorce by Abandonment?

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To declare a divorce by abandonment, one spouse must establish that the other spouse left the home and the marriage and refuses to return, notes LegalZoom. As of 2015, most states recognize abandonment as grounds for divorce and define it as one spouse leaving the other without consent. However, those states often require more than just a lack of consent to establish abandonment as grounds for divorce.

Most states that recognize abandonment as grounds for divorce also require a waiting period before a divorce action can begin, notes LegalZoom. In most states, the spouse must leave the home for a minimum of a year. Some states have longer periods, such as Maine, which requires three years. If the spouse returns to the home, then leaves again, the clock starts anew. In some states, if the spouse accepts financial support from the spouse who left, he may not claim abandonment and is deemed to have condoned the absence.

Abandonment does not always require one spouse to physically move out of the house. For instance, physical or mental cruelty or refusing sexual relations may be considered constructive abandonment, which is grounds for divorce, according to Divorce Source.

An alternative option to abandonment is no-fault divorce, which is recognized by every state, according to LegalZoom. No-fault divorces only require a spouse to agree that the marriage is over. There is usually no time requirement to meet, making it an easier path to divorce than abandonment.