What is abandonment?

Abandonment occurs when a spouse brings cohabitation to an end without

  • justification
  • the consent of the other spouse
  • the intent of renewing cohabitation.

All three of these elements must be proved by the spouse seeking to show the other spouse’s abandonment. A spouse is justified in leaving the other spouse, however, when the withdrawing spouse cannot continue the marital relation with safety, health, and self-respect.

North Carolina cases also recognize constructive abandonment as marital fault. Constructive abandonment arises when the other spouse does not physically leave the home but, rather, commits affirmative acts of cruelty/neglect or other willful failure to fulfill the obligations of marriage. In fact, this may drive the dependent spouse to leave the home. Understand¬†that the dependent spouse who is forced to leave the home by the other spouse’s misconduct does not abandon the injuring spouse but has, rather, been constructively abandoned.

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