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Desertion: One of the 7 grounds for divorce in Maryland

In Maryland, a divorce is granted for one of seven reasons. One of these reasons is desertion. Desertion refers to one spouse’s leaving the family home without cause. There are two types of desertion: actual and constructive. Read on to find out how the elements involved and how to prove them in a high-asset divorce.

Actual desertion is when one party leaves the home without cause. In order to prove this in a divorce, the party who was deserted must show that the spouse who left intended to file for divorce. The person who was deserted also must not have agreed to the other spouse leaving the home. The couple must be beyond reconciliation and the person must have been gone for at least one year.

In constructive desertion, the person who leaves must be justified in leaving the family home. The most common of these is cruelty. If a person’s safety is at risk, then he or she would be justified in leaving. But if it was caused by a minor dispute, then the divorce likely won’t be justified.

It’s important to ensure that the rules regarding desertion are followed. For example, having sex with the other spouse or spending one night back in the home after the alleged desertion negates the cause of divorce. It should only occur if one’s safety or the safety of the children is at risk. It’s a serious action that requires a lot of thought because if done improperly, the fault could lie with the victim – the person initiating the divorce. This could have many long-term effects, especially when a lot of assets are at stake.

As mentioned above, desertion is only one of a number of grounds for divorce in the Old Line State. If your case does not precisely fit the requirements of desertion, there may be another ground available. A Maryland family law attorney can provide more information.

Source: The Women’s Law Center of Maryland, “Legal Rights in Marriage & Divorce in Maryland,” accessed June 6, 2015

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