Over time, one or both spouses may realize that their relationship is no longer healthy and mutually agree to divorce. But sometimes, rather than confronting their spouse, some individuals find it easier just to pack up and leave. If your partner abandons you without warning, you may be left worrying about what it could mean for you.
Understanding marital abandonment
Abandonment is a form of marital misconduct, which are actions that North Carolina recognizes as the mistreatment of a spouse by the other. By law, the following conditions must apply to constitute abandonment:
- Spouse willfully ends cohabitation without justification or provocation;
- Without the consent of the other spouse; and
- Without the intent to resume cohabitation.
If your spouse left the home due to abuse, adultery or because you were emotionally absent, the court may consider it as constructive abandonment.
Abandonment, whether constructive or not, may play a part when you decide to divorce. Even if North Carolina is a no-fault state, instances of marital misconduct could affect how the judge awards spousal support. If you have children, abandonment may result in your spouse losing parental rights and you gaining sole custody.
Can you divorce an abandoning spouse?
You may feel that you have no choice but to file for divorce due to the emotional pain created by your partner’s abandonment. It’s possible but a spouse who does not want to be found can complicate things. Additionally, using abandonment as leverage in a divorce case is especially tricky, as is providing evidence of it.
Having the right support system in place can give you the strength to keep fighting for your and your family’s future. If you need it, surround yourself with loved ones. When the time comes to take legal action, a family law attorney can advise you on what steps to take.