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  • Seth Eric Springer, Esq.

What is Abandonment in a Marriage in Pennsylvania

Before one spouse abruptly leaves a marriage, he/she must reconsider his/her action. The law may consider it abandonment, which can impact the divorce proceedings in Pennsylvania.


Grounds for Divorce

Grounds for Divorce


When filing for divorce, one spouse should determine the grounds or the reasons why he/she wants to end the marriage. Couples in Pennsylvania are allowed to get divorced according to fault or no-fault grounds.


Fault-Based Divorce

If the divorce is based on fault grounds, one spouse must provide the court with a particular reason for the divorce. The spouse should provide that the other party caused the divorce. Below are some of the fault-based divorce grounds:


· Abandonment for at least one year

· Adultery

· Domestic violence and other extreme cruelty actions

· Bigamy

· A felony conviction that resulted in imprisonment for two or more years


No-Fault Divorces

The irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or irreconcilable differences is a strong basis for a no-fault divorce. In short, both parties cannot get along, and their marriage has no hope for repair. With a no-fault divorce, one spouse does not need to identify the reason for the divorce.


In this case, PA requires separation before divorce. The divorcing parties must have been separated for two years before filing a no-fault divorce. Once the case is filed, they must wait 90 days before the divorce is finalized.


What is Considered Marital Abandonment in Pennsylvania


A person can seek a fault-based divorce in Pennsylvania for several reasons, including marriage abandonment.


Marital abandonment occurs when one spouse abruptly disunites their relationship with their spouse. That person does not only walk out on the other spouse but also ignores his/her obligations, including emotional or financial support he/she should be providing.


The victims of marriage abandonment often feel stressed or alone over how they can continue living even without the support of their ex-spouse. The court may force the person who abandoned his/her marital obligations to take on their responsibilities, particularly if minor children are involved.


Different Types of Marriage Abandonment


Abandonment can be financial beyond physically moving out of the house. If one spouse moved out and failed to provide emotional or financial support to the other spouse for no good reason constitutes marriage abandonment.


The marital abandonment type can impact the divorce outcome. There are two types of marital abandonment in Pennsylvania: constructive abandonment and criminal abandonment.


Constructive abandonment takes place when one spouse makes life unbearable for the other spouse, so he/she has to abandon the marriage. That is particularly true in cases of criminal activity, domestic abuse, and infidelity. Under criminal abandonment, one spouse must prove to the judge that the other spouse has stopped providing support, protection, and care, or minor children are involved.


Will Marital Abandonment Affect Child Custody?


The impact on child custody is significant if one spouse is engaged in criminal abandonment. The abandoning spouse can have limits on the visitation privileges or lose custody of their child. A child custody agreement is critical ahead of time to prevent that situation.


While a person can lose child custody once he/she abandons a marriage, it does not necessarily mean that he/she has no responsibilities to the child. The financial and emotional obligations are still intact. Plus, the court can still force the abandoning spouse to pay child support.


The same case is applicable for the spouse who depends on financial support. If one spouse chooses to desert a marriage, he/she may need to pay alimony or other support payments to the other spouse.


What Happens to the Property After a Marriage Abandonment?


The house and other properties that the couple shares will stay under joint control. The abandoning spouse still has the claim to the interest and the property. At the same time, the victim of marital abandonment can still live there and make decisions regarding the changes to the house structurally and cosmetically. The abandoned spouse also has privacy rights about the house and any other property, and the former spouse needs to respect and honor it.


Overall, leaving too soon without the other spouse’s content is considered abandonment, significantly impacting divorce-related matters. PA is not a 50/50 divorce state but instead applies an equity distribution theory.


Before a person makes an impulsive decision, reaching out to an experienced divorce lawyer from a divorce law office in York is advantageous when learning the potential options. The lawyer ensures that the abandoning spouse will pay whatever support is needed.

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