Marital Abandonment

In law, the term “abandonment” may be used in a variety of legal issues, from contract law to real estate law, referring to the giving up or renunciation of an interest, privilege, possession, or right, with the intent of never reclaiming it. As the term applies to matters of Family Law, an individual may abandon a marriage, spouse, child, or property. While abandonment of a marriage or marital property is a civil matter to be dealt with in family court, abandonment of a child may also be a criminal offense for which the individual may face criminal charges. To explore this concept, consider the following marital abandonment definition.

Definition of Abandonment

Noun

  1. The giving up or withdrawal of support from something or someone
  2. The act of leaving or deserting a person or property

Origin

1325-1375        Middle French abandoner

Walking Away and Marital Abandonment

Marital abandonment refers to a situation in which one spouse severs ties with the family, forsaking his or her responsibilities and duties to the family. Simply moving out of the family home in an attempt to create a temporary or permanent separation is not considered abandonment. The difference is often seen in the person’s refusal to provide necessary support, whether financial or otherwise, with no intention to return, or to fulfill those responsibilities. In most states, the remaining spouse has no financial responsibility to the abandoning spouse.

In an at-fault divorce state, abandonment may be considered grounds for divorce. In these states, the spouse claiming abandonment must prove certain things to the court. For example, Jennifer files for divorce claiming that her husband, James, abandoned her just over a year ago. Jennifer would need to show that the couple had not agreed that James would leave, that she didn’t cause James’ departure, and that he hadn’t paid any support during his absence.

Constructive Abandonment

Marital abandonment does not necessarily refer to a spouse leaving the home, but may be accomplished when one spouse forces the other to leave through bad behavior. If one spouse intentionally makes life insufferable for the other, giving the other spouse no choice but to leave, he or she has committed constructive abandonment. Many acts or refusals may give legal grounds for a victim-spouse to leave the marriage and home. These may include:

  • Physical, emotional, or mental cruelty
  • Physical abuse
  • Infidelity
  • Withholding sex
  • Refusing to provide financial support

Criminal Abandonment

Suddenly refusing to provide care, support, and protection for minor children, or for a spouse who has serious health problems, is considered criminal abandonment. The law does not require people to continue living in a relationship, and anyone has the right to walk away from a sick spouse, but there is a price. It is likely the court would consider such an abandoned spouse to be financially dependent on the leaving spouse, and issue an order for continued financial responsibility and care. Abandoning a minor child is, in many cases, considered a crime as well, even if the child has not suffered physical harm as a result of being abandoned.

Property Division in Marital Abandonment

In most states, the fact that one spouse abandoned the marriage is not considered for the purpose of dividing marital assets. However, if one party leaves the residence without making an arrangement as to how the couple will pay the mortgage and other financial obligations, the remaining spouse may successfully argue to the court that the leaving party abandoned the marriage, and neglected the marital property and obligations. If the remaining spouse continued to pay the mortgage and other bills with no help from the abandoning spouse, it could create a very persuasive argument that the abandoning spouse should not be entitled to any equity that has accrued on the property, or possibly to the property itself.

In addition, most states’ statutes make a provision for either spouse who purposely wastes, neglects, destroys, or devalues the marital property, which may be taken into account by the family court judge when dividing the marital assets.

Protecting Oneself When Abandoned by a Spouse

When a couple divorces, each party has certain financial rights, which include the right to request alimony, and the right to an equitable distribution of the marital property. The process of enforcing these rights begins with the filing of a Summons and Complaint for Divorce.

In a circumstance in which a spouse who has been abandoned does not wish to file for divorce, the abandoned spouse may still request spousal support from the other party. Spousal support in an abandonment case with no divorce filed must be requested by the abandoned spouse through the local family court.

In the event an abandoned spouse has children with the other party, he or she may request a custody order from the court, establishing the children’s custodial parent. The abandoned spouse may also seek an order for child support from the other party. The specific process to file for custody and child support varies by jurisdiction. Contacting the local family court, or consulting with a family law attorney, is the best way to discover the correct process.

Related Legal Terms and Issues

  • Financial Responsibility – The obligation of a parent to financially provide for the needs of a child.
  • Marital Property – The property and money acquired by a couple during the course of their marriage.
  • Custodial Parent – A parent given physical and/or legal custody of a child by order of the court.

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tony
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tony

i have a wife that hasn’t slept with me for 4 years and no s*x for four years i want to leave my children don’t respect me i provide for them everyday what should i do

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Manika Hinton
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Manika Hinton

U sound crazy U can divorce your wife but your kid’s who’s the parent you lead by example need to seriously ask yourself after the first month why you didn’t put a end to it I take it counseling and respect for your family was a no go SMH

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ORG
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ORG

Consider the ages of the children. If appropriate make them goto family counseling (yeah you too). Get a good family law attorney, and live a better life.

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Vicki
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Vicki

You should ask her why shes not sleeping with you, then after she tell you. Tell her you want a divorce. Tell her you dont want to cheat so you want a divorce

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ICEMAN
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ICEMAN

This old lady use me for my VA benefits she bought sofa refrigerator washer dryer dining room table bed use my USAA account to buy a brand new Volvo she didn’t want me to touch none of her stuff she bought and she left the home we just bought 7 months ago and moved out while I was at work and disable all the cameras on the house so I couldn’t see the MESS she bought inside of the home and on the way out she’s scarred up the hardwood floors I guess she think that’s real cute to do… Read more »

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Carla Denis
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Carla Denis

In the criminal abandonment under Virginia law, my husband cheated on me in our home, I caught him, then he left me and my son in our rental home that his parents owned, we rented together, left me the day after my mastectomy, never came back, then his parents kicked me and my son out of the house. Child support and custody visitation is already done through the court. Do I have a case?

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Confused and fed up
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Confused and fed up

Married going on 9 years, wife stopped having s*x with me about a year ago. Always throws her ex in my face. Come to find out there still talking and recently she took a trip to where he lives. He’s a football coach in the NFL, says her and her cousin just went to the game. Where he lives and coaches. But he gave her tickets and who knows whatever else happened while she was there. He knows she is married, evidently he doesnt care. We have a new home and a 5 year old. She claims there just friends.… Read more »

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Vicki
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Vicki

Put house on market, start selling your assets to get the money to leave. At closing of the house you will have the money. And if you don’t she won’t get the house. At ten years she get half. Divorce before 10

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Michael Langlois
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Michael Langlois

Can anyone tell me what my rights are as far as a house that I’ve been building alone for the past 2 and half years When my estranged wife and I seperated she moved in with her sister and wanted nothing to do with me or my efforts to build a house. I had no where to go so I bought a cheap acre lot out of the city limits and decided to build a place to live since I had lost my 29 year career after being injured on the job. My wife turned cold on me and showed… Read more »

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M elwell
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M elwell

If it is a separation it is different than abandonment because separation (depends on state) means you will reconcile sooner of later; abandonment is when she out right leaves you with out any choice in the matter.

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See Jay
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See Jay

Get a lawyer and lay this picture out for them. It seems pretty apparent that she is just after what little money/ assets she can grab. Divorce her as quickly as you can!

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M T
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M T

Recently my boyfriend and I have been arguing and he wants to buy me out of our house. I know if he buys me out he will not be able to afford the home on his own income. He said he won’t leave until i pay him a certain amount of money. I have been paying 80% of all the bills including the mortgage payment. This all started when i saw infidelity through text messages and confronted him about 4 days after I found the messages. We have been together for 6.5 years and bam, a month ago wants nothing… Read more »

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R. Murray
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R. Murray

o*g this happened to me about 15 years ago. Same scenario, only my ex forced me out of the house when he started playing around with one of his many guns in an effort to intimidate me. For the safety of my children I moved out while he was at work and filed for bankruptcy. He couldn’t afford the payments and the house went into foreclosure. We had been together for ten years. Apparently my interest in the house had not been dissolved by the bankruptcy courts so I was able to get a few thousand dollars after everything had… Read more »

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theresa
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theresa

i have a husband and me and this man has been separated for about 7 months. he lives in a house that was purchased by him after we was married. we were still together and in a good space after the house was renovated. he decided to leave the marital home when we was separated and move into the home that was recently renovated. he doesnt want me at the recently renovated home unless he is okay with it. well i recently came to the home and another woman was there. how can i make him pay for what he… Read more »

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CELIA D DOMINGUEZ-BARBOSA
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CELIA D DOMINGUEZ-BARBOSA

I have been married for 4 1/2 years to a much , much younger guy.. I’m 51 , he’s 29.. Yea.. I know what you’re gonna say; ”NO WONDER HE LEFT, RIGHT?” Well, this young man was very much in love with me, and don’t get me wrong, he’s never been a bad guy as far as abusing me physically or mentally.. For a young guy he was very responsible and mature for his age.. And, I think that’s what attracted me to him. But, I beieve he had a big crush on me too ( lpl) Anyways, to make… Read more »

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Vicki
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Vicki

Hes a child, you married a child. Divorce the child

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Same situation, the running part
Guest
Same situation, the running part

Sound a little familiar, my husband runs and returns only to run again. And of course its all me and not him. Its rather confusing. Go ahead with your life he is still inmature and has years of growing up to do. (In my case my husband is in his 50 + years) He refuses to commit just like my husband and believe me he will return only to get retarted again, then turn right around and leave again. You must break the cycle or it will restart over and over again. He probably has nothing to give so just… Read more »

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Barkley
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Barkley

My Name is Barkley. I will love to share my testimony to all the people in the forum cos i never thought i will have my girlfriend back and she means so much to me..The girl i want to get marry to left me 4 weeks to our wedding for another man..,When i called her she never picked my calls,She deleted me on her facebook and she changed her facebook status from engage to Single…when i went to her place of work she told her boss she never want to see me..I lost my job as a result of this… Read more »

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Paul Lambright
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Paul Lambright

What can I do if if My wife left years ago back to United Kingdom & I can’t get a divorce from her, after signing covenant marriage papers.

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Annaliza B. Richard
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Annaliza B. Richard

Hi. Im married with a Britiah National and I stayed in the Uk for almost 6-7months for my Visa got expired. We are about to renew but he lost his job ao I decided to go back to Philippines. At first we still have contact but then suddenly I lost contact with him. He is not replying on my emails that much. I dont know what to do. I told him that I want to go back but he said that he dont have anything. I did not even tried applying for Visa for I dont know what to do… Read more »

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Scared
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Scared

I have a husband that walked away December 27th I got diagnosed with Kira malformation a year ago waiting for disability we have for dogs he left without me knowing anything and just to a note now I’m alone trying to take care of myself and my for dogs he doesn’t reply to texts phone calls or anyting and I don’t constantly text or call once a week just to discuss the bills he hasn’t checked in to see if I was okay or the dogs I am lost and don’t know what to do been together for 12 years… Read more »

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Virginia
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Virginia

At least you got a note.. mine left for work and never came home

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Ras
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Ras

What if your wife abandons you and takes your son???

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Carsh
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Carsh

It is a criminal act to leave a relationship and take minor children, and not know where spouse went and especially where children are. I am not a Lawyer, but I know you need to file with your local Police Station immediately. Good Luck! In my prayers.

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Ras
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Ras

What if your wife abandons you and takes your son?

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Mark Daniels
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Mark Daniels

My wife and I have been together coming up on 22 tears married 16. I’ve been disabled since 2012. I have had total of 4 back surgeries and one shoulder. we split the bills up .I get 2500.00 month for disability . when I was working I made 4300 month plus she made 3700 a month. She gave me a 24 hour notice she was moving out. Now I’m paying everything on 2500.00 a month. I get 1169.00 from workers comp. and 1364.00 from SSD. She empty half of one savings account. What can I do to survive I know… Read more »

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Lorie
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Lorie

I am in the same d**n place only my husband took off after getting multiple dwis, my car insurance was canceled. I have been running around trying to find insurance. He destroyed a wall in my house by falling into it multiple times while drunk. Ran up all my bills then after I found him a rehab gave him money over and over he takes off claiming I am abusive. ha, but I have text messages where he threatens to kill me, tells me to slit my throat. I am trying to climb out of h**l right now. He never… Read more »

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Jessica
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Jessica

I am wanting to move into my own home without my husband. He is emotionally and verbally abusive. At times he can be physical. He refuses to respect me and the rules I have for my children. I am just flat out tired and ready to move out. I won’t abandon my children or my responsibility as a parent. At the same time he will refuse my rights to be a parent once I leave and will not allow me to have my kids. How do I fight this?

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Lonely
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Lonely

My husband left n September I was 6 months pregnant w our second child. He had not financially been supportive of our household. I would like to seek ful custody of both children. He had only given me 500+ for mortgage. No food no diapers. And constant disconnect notices. We have a child support and maintain hearing on Tues. What should I plan for.

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Joe
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Joe

We were together for 2 years, Wife n I were only married for 3 months, she beat me, refused s*x, cheated on me, all through the relationship. I thought marrying her would cure it all. She disappeared in the middle of the night and was pregnant with my, now confirmed, little girl and left to go back to the Midwest after I told her we were through, I couldn’t handle the abuse both psychologically and physically anymore. Even though I have tried to get her she refuses me contact and I have never met her. This was 3 years ago.… Read more »

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T.Marie S.
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T.Marie S.

My husband of 17years got bad into crystal meth and it changed him in a bad way. He went back home to San Diego to get his head straight? In his late 50’s&18;years, he strung me along for 4months now to say Leave him alone&move on. He’s lying about not doing the drug anymore; but it brings out the pervy s*x addict &his son is enabling him by allowing him to stay rent free. So, he has SSDI monthly with only a cell phone bill, stonewalled me, I’m in a SSDI claim now and unemployed. I supported him for 2years… Read more »

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Kathy
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Kathy

I have been married for twenty years. My husband, and I don’t get along at all anymore cause he has a drinking problem.all this years it’s being a struggle for me. I am eleven years older then him, and on social security, and still working tree times a week.i don’t have any money to pay all the bills can’t afford to stay in the house. He told me he is not going to pay the bills next month, he makes really good money, but he spends it! In bars bought new truck went to Florida last summer, and charged five… Read more »

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Carol H
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Carol H

My husband quit his job and left to hike the Appalachian Trail leaving me with our 17 y/O daughter and all our debt. I cannot pay all of our bills and mortgage. He told me to sell everything and get our daughter through college. I only work part time as he didn’t want me to go back to work after our daughter met was born. What do I do? I am alone and lost.

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john
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john

my wife and I married I bought a home with my 401k she abandoned the house and myself and filed for divorce now she wants the house do I have a arguable case

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john
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john

she has been gone for almost two years before filing I have attempted to give her back her possessions she did not want them

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Jeanne Randall
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Jeanne Randall

My husband has left me many times over the last year but always comes back. He took me off our joint bank account and he is the main source of income for our family. Two months ago he left me again but then filed for divorce behind my back but he refuses to have me served. He takes home over $6000 a month and has no bills of any kind. He left me with nothing. I can’t afford an attorney, mean while he’s banking 1000’s of dollars. Our monthly bills and household expenses run almost 5000/month. He has given me… Read more »

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Ray
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Ray

I am a handicapped man I am in a wheelchair one leg and 70% blind I am on social security. .I am married my wife wants out .. I’m worried about supporting myself we have a 13 year old daughter .. will my wife legally have to pay me support ??

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Michelle
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Michelle

I own a home and the mortgage and deed is only in my name. My husband never came home and hasn’t for over a month. He has not provided and support financial or emotional in over 45days. I want to sell my house, can he stop this or get half of the equity?? We live in Massachusetts and neither one of us have filed for divorce. I have maintained all of the household finances with out him.

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Bksmith 54
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Bksmith 54

My husband of ten year up and moved out on me suddenly while I was visiting my mom,he text me said he finally did won’t be there when I get home.next day I learned he moved in with another woman,and text me saying he did so,ok haven’t gotten any support from him money wise for 30 days,what do I do now.

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Charles Stickel
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Charles Stickel

My wife moved out almost two years ago she took anything she wanted. Now she coming back for her part if the home. Never paid a dime. For insurance or bills live in pa no campionionship for 16 years

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Charles Stickel
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Charles Stickel

Marital Abandonment

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VivianAder
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VivianAder

My Sons wife walked out over 2 years ago. When She left She took everything. They have a Son together and She had a daughter before. He lost the house, and paid it through garnishment. She tells Him when He can see His Son and won’t let Him take Him on vacation with Him. My Son has Him on His insurance and gives Her money when asked. She had another baby last year and now She is engaged with another guy.My Son would like custody or joint custody, but can’t afford a divorce. Please help.

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Phil
Guest
Phil

my wife left the property when own 2 years 8 months ago and i have lived in the house and continued the financial obligations of the house. Now she has filed for divorce. How does abandonment come into this situation? Legally where do i stand?

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Amy G Hall
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Amy G Hall

I am disabled and my husband abandoned me over a year ago . No one will arrest him for neglecting me with no support. I have end stage COPD and ALS reversal.

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No
Steve
Guest
Steve

My wife and I have been married for 16 years. Recently I found out that before we got married she tried to commit suicide and was diagnosed as bi-polar which is several reasons for her distrust, jealousy and paranoia. I want to get out of this relationship asap. Do i have grounds or don’t I.

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cisely
Guest
cisely

my husband left the house with out any notice. I noticed that he hasn’t been making any payments and I’m stressing out because I don’t know what to do next.
I would like to know If i can file for married abandonment.
All our kids are grown so it does not required for child support.

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Trina
Guest
Trina

My husband just left me and my kids without any money or a car. We have been soley dependent on him since our marraige.My kids are from a previous relationship. But i found out he was sexting other women, plus he was very verbally abusive and mentally abusive when he was here.

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sofi
Guest
sofi

Pls i need advice on thIs pls.i was sponsored by my wife. On arrival aince the last 4 months life has been unbearable for me. Recently i was sent out of the house. I had to look for somewhere to stay. Is it possible for them to file a case of abandonment against me and win. Please i need advice.

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kesha
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kesha

– I am kesha i lives in uk and i was in a serious relationship with my ex guy for three good years.. One day we were in a dinner party, we had a little misunderstanding which lead to a Quarrel and he stood up and left me at the dinner party. i try to call him but he was not picking my calls so after than i contacted my brother and told him about it,my brother so much love me that he had to see him on my behalf,he told my brother that it is over between us.. Then… Read more »

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Vickie
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Vickie

I want to remarry. Husband was abusive. Cheated on me in my house that i paid for while i was in the hospital. It took 3 operations to repair damage from his abuse. I haven’t seen or spoken to him in over10 years when he walked out on me. I have a chance to marry a good man. Can I have him declared dead?

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Glissman
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Glissman

My husband left in 1999, I thought he would be back in 6 months, after getting a job in Diego Garcia as a Harbor Master. He’s been living in the Philippines, now he wants a divorce…I was informed by his girlfriend. He was an alcoholic, still is, presently he wants me to divorce him now so he can change citizenship. He can barely walk or stand on his own, he can mumble, but is in need of a skilled nursing facility. She (girlfriend) says he needs to become a citizen of the Philippines in order to get assistance medically. The… Read more »

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Gloria
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Gloria

My husband left the marriage,he never filed for a legal seperation.36 years later he filed for a divorce,he left several times but would always come back,giving me false hope of being a family,we have one son,he never helped raised him.I am didabled,I filed for spousal support,half of everything.what are my chances of getting what I am entitled to the hearing is in july.

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Connie
Guest
Connie

Wife left and is not interested in taking some of her personal property and stated so. May the husband dispose of the personal effects that have been abandoned?

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Dee
Guest
Dee

I am a 55 year old female and I am disabled I have been with the same man for almost 20 years all together in the 20-year say 17 years total we have been married since 09 and he has left on the xxi May 2018 since he’s been gone I have had no money except for the $80 he put in the mailbox plus two packs of cigarettes from him and he gave me $80 last Saturday and 40th at went for food take out for us and a carton of cigarettes what can I do has he abandon… Read more »

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Lyn
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Lyn

My husband of 17 years left the house 4 months ago. For 15 years he deposited 1800.00 (900 biweekly automatic allotment) into our joint account towards mortgage and household bills (both of us did the same) 2 months ago he reduced by $200 and stopped the allotment. Instead he gave it to my 23 daughter to deliver to me. Recently sent me a text and said he is no longer paying. Although I make more than him both deposits were required to meet monthly bills. We have a sixteen year old as well. What are my rights if any? Thanks

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Barbara Jackson
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Barbara Jackson

My husband abandoned me almost 9 months ago. I still have no idea where he is or how to contact. The court approved a limited divorce asking for spousal support but I was never able to serve. I had to file bankruptcy and had to repossess my car. WE have monies in an annuity which I can’t get without him. Do I still need to wait out the remainder of the one year period since he abandoned me to file for an absolute divorce so I can get my half of the money??

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Gie
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Gie

4 yrs married to disabled vet, i work part time to take care of him. One night from work he didnt let me in the house. Its 10 months now i am away from home. He was telling me he will file a divorced. I waited, but i didnot recieve any notice.According to him i abandon him. He said i Lift him nothing.No money, The truth is he is recieving 100% disability check, plus the increased being married.He is recieving from SS. Eversinced we were married i have no access in his bank. I didnt care.I took care of the… Read more »

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Lotus
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Lotus

12 yrs he was my main source of income, so now, no money no attorney, he took my kids,and one is disabled. I was the only stable parent and source of comfort for 12yrs and now I barely see them.

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Susan
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Susan

I have a family member who retired from Military Service. During this time he was married with 2 children. After retirement he came home one day to find his wife had movers removing household items from a house they jointly owned. She also took their 16 year old daughter and left the state of Florida and went to New York with the husband having no knowledge she was leaving or taking their child. During five years there was minimal contact unless the daughter called the father. He was not sure where in New York they were and the wife has… Read more »

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Tom
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Tom

Does anyone know how long i have to wait since she has moved out of provinve to file for property abandonment

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Abby
Guest
Abby

My husband disappeared to California (we live in Texas) leaving myself and my son alone. We’ve hardly heard from him at all and he has not helped support our son in any way since leaving or spoken to him. What are my options to have his rights terminated and divorcing him? Please help

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Raquel Fish-Mccall
Guest
Raquel Fish-Mccall

My husband packed up most all of his belongings while I was working nights all the while texting me on my breaks telling me he loved me etc but when i get up the next day i discover he has left and hasnt been back since. He abandoned me and my 15 yr old daughter. Never offered any help to me with the bills he left me. Is he entitled to anything he left that he didnt take, mainly a few clothes and old tools.

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