One spouse has various legal rights if the other leaves, including a case for divorce, financial support and the right to sue, according to Divorce Source and Cindy Chung for LegalZoom. These rights rest on "abandonment" as legal grounds against the spouse who left.
With abandonment, one spouse leaves without the other's consent, explains Divorce Source. This distinction is important because abandonment is grounds for divorce compared to a trial separation in which both spouses agree to separate. The abandoned spouse has the right to file for divorce.
In addition to the right to divorce, the abandoned spouse has the right to receive financial support or spousal maintenance, notes Chung. Depending on state laws, financial support can be short-term during the divorce case or long-term for years after the divorce. This is especially pertinent if the spouse who left provided the primary source of income.
Moreover, the spouse can file a civil complaint against the other for significantly reducing the spouse's ability to support herself financially. The punishment could be imprisonment or a fine depending on the severity of state laws. The abandoned spouse can also sue a third party if the other committed adultery with the third party. This right rests under the legal grounds of "emotional distress," according to Chung.