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How Does Abandonment Affect My Divorce?

Woman being abandoned

My spouse abandoned me, does that mean I can use this against them in our divorce?

While abandonment impacts things within a divorce, it does not affect the grounds for a divorce. There is no special filing or special relief that a party can seek because they have been “abandoned” in Kansas or Missouri. On the other hand, abandonment may affect issues and outcomes due to physical issues, mental issues, emotional issues and sometimes financial issues.

In some marriages, the decision to get a divorce may be a one-sided determination. When a marriage ends because of infidelity, mistreatment or other abusive behaviors, it can be a one-sided decision. In other situations, the spouses come to a mutual, agreeable decision that the marriage relationship has run its course and the parties should no longer continue to stay married. Whether the end of the marriage is a one-sided or mutual decision, one spouse leaving the marriage, the family and the home without an intention of returning, particularly if done on that spouse’s terms, without consultation with the other spouse or the other family members, that is called abandonment.

When a spouse feels deserted or abandoned by the other spouse, it may have a significant effect on the spouse and children left behind. If the spouse deserting the family is either primary breadwinner or the primary caretaker of the children, obviously, there are significant impacts on the children and the day to day life of the family. The children may feel either significant financial need or may feel that the person who has always been present to care for them has suddenly left them. In some situations, such as if the spouse is in the military and abandons the family financially, there may be ramifications under the UCMJ (the Uniform Code of Military Justice).

In other family situations, a spouse does not physically leave, but engages in a variety of behaviors and actions which makes the marriage unbearable for the other spouse to remain. This may drive the other spouse out of the home, and often includes some type of abuse which may be verbal/emotional abuse, lashing out in front of the children or involving the children, or engaging in physical abuse of the spouse or the children.

How Does Abandonment Affect the Divorce Process?

Abandonment may affect spousal support. If a spouse, particularly if he or she is the bread winner leaves the marriage and does not appropriately make arrangements to care for the family and support the family financially, then the abandonment of the family is likely to result in the court determining that the abandonment requires the court to intervene in ensuring the family is financially supported (and not abandoned).

Further, abandonment by one spouse may also impact the court’s decisions or rulings on child custody or parenting time and child support. As the court has the duty to consider the best interests of the child or children involved, a parent electing to abandon the children and the family likely shows some level of decision making about the parent’s priority of their parent-child relationship. The Court is always responsible for enacting a parenting plan that meets the needs of the children. Often, when a parent abandons the child, they become alienated from their children as the children do not understand the decision-making of the departing parent. If a parent leaves for a long enough time and refuses to re-engage in their parenting responsibilities, it may result in the parent staying behind being awarded sole custody. In many, many situations, when a parent abandons the family and the children, it is demonstrative of larger issues, often mental health concerns, drug and alcohol abuse or use or other concerns that result in the outward step of the parent abandoning the children and the family.

If you have been abandoned and need to discuss how this will affect your child custody or divorce case, please call Pingel Family Law today to schedule your consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney to give you guidance about the process. Call today at (816) 208-8130.

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