Understanding Marital Property and Abandonment in Relation to Divorce

Aug 8, 2012 by

When you get to the point where you are contemplating a divorce, there is often plenty of nasty water that has already flowed under the bridge. Emotions run high and you may be considering a run for the hills. However, this can lead to issues with abandonment, so you really need to do your homework before making this decision.

Many people who are considering divorce may not be aware of the issue of abandonment or may be confused as to what qualifies for this term. That is entirely understandable. The truth is that divorce law is decided on a state level. It can even vary by county within a state. However, there are a few standard definitions that will serve as a research guide. In general, abandonment is considered any time that one spouse leaves the family home without the consent or agreement of the other for an extended period of time. If both spouses have agreed to live apart for a time in order to cool off and think about things, that is not abandonment. An agreement has been made between the parties and they both agree. However, if a spouse moves out without any warning or discussion, this can qualify as abandonment. Withholding support to the family also adds another layer to the charge. It is also often assessed if a parent has refused to see or talk to their children.

While it can be tempting to just bail out on a marriage, it is probably not in your best interest. When dealing with property in a divorce, there is almost always a 50/50 split. However, if your spouse can prove abandonment, they have the upper hand in the proceedings. If your spouse remains in possession of the family home, you may lose the right to make decisions about what happens with your house, but will still likely be responsible for bills and expenses until the situation is settled. The spouse who stays in possession maintains the right of occupancy, making it difficult to achieve a fair negotiation. Also, being charged with abandonment can affect your ability to seek custody of your children. The judge will almost always favor the parent who stayed with the kids during the upheaval, making this a very difficult, uphill climb. Of course, if you are the spouse that is suffering from being left alone in your marriage, this information can provide you with the teeth you need to fight for your fair share of the property.

No one begins their marriage thinking that they will be a statistic. A long and happy life together was always the initial goal. However, there comes a time when the conflict can not be fixed through things like counseling. In this situation, it may be better to seek a divorce to protect your children and allow yourself to move on with your life in a more healthy way. If this does happen, understanding the law in regards to property and abandonment can help the process go more smoothly.

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