Divorce and Marriage Law

What are the Maryland abandonment laws for divorce?


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In the context of divorce law, abandonment is referred to as "desertion." It is a "fault" type of grounds for divorce, meaning that it can affect how the court rules on matters of alimony and child custody.

There are two types, Actual Desertion. and Constructive Desertion. The distinction at its core has to do with who is at fault, the person leaving or the person remaining in the home. Actual Desertion is when the person who left is at fault because they unjustifiably abandoned the spouse remaining. In Constructive Desertion, the spouse remaining drove the leaving spouse away through their actions, such as cruelty.

In either case, the desertion must have continued for at least 12 months. During this time, the two spouse must not have stayed under the same roof for a night nor have sex, or it invalidates this period of time. The deserted spouse must also prove much of the matter in court, and this can be a complicated process. See link for specifics.