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Understanding abandonment as a ground for a divorce

On Behalf of | Dec 3, 2021 | Divorce |

People who want to get divorced in New York will in some cases list the reasons in their petitions. New York recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds. One of the fault-based grounds for divorces in the state is spousal abandonment.

What is spousal abandonment?

Spousal abandonment occurs when one spouse leaves the marriage for one or more years without the intention of returning. The state also recognizes constructive abandonment. In this situation, a spouse can allege that the other spouse constructively abandoned the marriage when he or she was forced to leave because of the intolerable conditions created by the other spouse because of abuse, substance abuse, or other issues. Constructive abandonment can also be alleged when one spouse has refused sexual relations for one year or longer.

Spousal abandonment vs. irretrievable breakdown

New York also recognizes a ground for divorce called an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This is also known as a no-fault divorce. To allege this ground, the petitioner must state that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for six or more months, and all of the issues must have been settled by the spouses. By contrast, spousal abandonment is a fault ground and will require the spouse alleging abandonment to prove it in court. Abandonment and other fault-based grounds for divorce might involve more litigation and lead to increased expenses for the divorce.

In situations in which an estranged couple can reach a settlement agreement for all of their outstanding divorce issues, including child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division, it might be easier and less expensive to choose irretrievable breakdown as the ground for divorce instead of abandonment. Alleging abandonment or other fault-based divorce grounds can involve significant litigation and drive up the expenses involved with the divorce process. People alleging abandonment will also have to prove their spouses abandoned them before their divorces will be granted.