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People take legal matters into their own hands every day, and sometimes they lose money and property in the process. You can make a legally binding contract without using an attorney, but you are risking missing some big legal loopholes and laws you may not be familiar with that can not only make your contract invalid but can actually cost you in the end. When you are selling or purchasing real estate, tackling the creation of a will or even just loaning money to a friend, a consultation with an attorney can be a positive step. I'll show you when and why you need an attorney.



You May Need an Attorney and Not Even Know It

Constructive Abandonment As A Ground Of Divorce

by Barry Butler

When your spouse "leaves" your marriage, the law allows you to use the abandonment as a ground for divorce (if your state allows fault divorce). However, your spouse doesn't have to physically leave the marital home for it to be considered abandonment. There is constructive abandonment, which may happen even when your partner is still living with you.

What It Means

Constructive abandonment occurs when your spouse withholds those things that are widely considered as essential or as natural elements of marriage. For example, the society expects married people to get intimate, support their family financially and show affection to one another. Therefore, your partner will be considered to have constructively abandoned you if they:

  • Move to a separate bedroom and stop all intimate relations with you
  • Stop contributing to the family budget without a clear reason; for example, they may still be earning the same salary
  • Force you to move out of the home
  • Invite your abusive in-laws to share your marital home while doing nothing to shield you from the abuse

The Need for Prolonged Desertion

The law requires constructive abandonment to continue for an extended period, say one year, before it can be used as a ground for divorce. This is necessary to give an allowance for the normal squabbles that are inevitable in most marriages. For example, you can't accuse your partner of constructive abandonment just because you argued over the weekend and they have been sleeping in the other bedroom for two days. Another example is when your partner has been providing (financially) for the family all along, then one month fails to do it; the financial abandonment needs to go on longer than that for it to matter legally.

The Difference with Separation

The main difference between abandonment and desertion is that both spouses must agree for a separation to take place. That is, if your spouse tells you that they want to look for a separate apartment or move to the guest bedroom, and you agree to it, then they are not abandoning you. In such a case, you have agreed to a mutual separation, which cannot be used a ground for divorce.

Now that you have a good understanding of what constructive abandonment is and what it isn't, note that it can affect the terms of your divorce. For example, a parent that abandons their spouse and kids is probably not ready to take care of the kids, which means they may lose custody for the kids. Talk to a lawyer, like one from Caldwell Kennedy & Porter, for more information on how constructive abandonment will affect your divorce.