What is Spousal Abandonment?

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  • Written By: Lori Smith
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 12 March 2020
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Laws regarding family dynamics and various marriage-related issues frequently differ for each jurisdiction. In most areas, however, spousal abandonment typically occurs when either a husband or wife purposefully and secretively moves away from the household, often keeping his or her whereabouts hidden from the other. In some cases, the jilted spouse knows the location of his or her partner, but is still left without means of financial support. This is more common when the departing person is the breadwinner of the family. Usually, this problem occurs in a turbulent marriage when divorce may already be looming, but sometimes a spouse is deserted without any warning whatsoever.

When a married couple decides to sever ties with each other, the process of separation and divorce is rarely simple, especially when children are involved. Under certain circumstances, it is actually best for arguing couples to live separately. When one party decides to leave the family home, but informs the other of his choice and continues to provide financial support, the issue of spousal abandonment typically does not arise. In fact, this type of separation can ease a significant source of distress for the family and allow each member time to heal.


Unfortunately, not all marriages end amicably. Since there are so many emotions involved, one party may decide that he or she simply wants to escape the situation. The wayward spouse essentially runs away and hides in secrecy. In doing so, however, it may create a substantial emotional and financial hardship for the other as well as any children currently living in the home.

Typically, it is a man who is accused of spousal abandonment, but not always. For example, wives who are breadwinners while husbands care for children in the home may be left vulnerable when the woman decides to leave abruptly. A man who is disabled may also claim spousal abandonment when his wife disappears, withdraws financial contributions, or fails to provide other types of aide.

Sometimes, a man or woman escapes a marriage to protect his or her own safety. This is typical in situations of physical abuse or extreme maltreatment. The victimized spouse may see no other way out of the unhealthy and dangerous marriage, so he or she simply moves away without warning. In many cases, this type of action might not constitute spousal abandonment if the allegations are proven. Without seeking assistance from authorities, however, it can be difficult to convince a judge that alleged abuse was the reason for deserting a partner.


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Post 1

So once one spouse is abandoned and unable to earn a living due to a disability, what can be done?

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