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What rights do you have after desertion in a marriage?

Updated March 23, 2017

Desertion (sometimes also called "abandonment") is a specific cause for divorce in a marriage. Each state, though, can define "desertion" differently, and has its own criteria that must be met in order for desertion to be claimed. Check the resources section below for specific information relevant to your state. Each state also can award the remaining spouse certain rights.

The Right to Seek a Divorce

When a spouse leaves the marital home for longer than a certain amount of time, and under conditions determined by your state, then he or she has deserted the marriage. In this case, you have the right to seek a divorce without informing your spouse.

Spousal Support

If your spouse was the primary breadwinner, then you may be entitled to spousal support once criteria for desertion has been met.

Marital Home

Once your spouse has abandoned the marriage, if you continue to live in the marital home, you may have the right to petition the court for full ownership of the property.

Custody of Children

You may have the right for full custody of any children from the marriage, if they are living with you in the marital home.

Child Support

Once full custody of the children is established, you may also be entitled to child support from your spouse.

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About the Author

Micah Rubenstein has been writing professionally since 1985. He was the editor of the online publication GrailWorld Magazine, the host and producer of the weekly "Message In Music" radio series and a former professor at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. He teaches at Columbus State Community College and Granite State College in New Hampshire. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in music from Brown University.