Sometimes, one spouse either moves out of the marital home or feels like they have no choice but to do so. Whether there was a justification for the move is critical. If there was, one spouse might have grounds for divorce.
In most cases, New Jersey divorces are either based on an 18-month separation period or irreconcilable differences that have arisen between the spouses. Most divorces are not fault-based. It can be challenging to prove fault grounds for a divorce, and the spouse arguing for them must meet their burden of proof. However, sometimes it makes sense to seek a fault-based divorce, such as abandonment.
The Different Types of Abandonment
In divorce, abandonment means that one spouse has unreasonably deserted the other. In some cases, the spouse has simply moved out of the home without any type of justification. There are three types of abandonment in New Jersey:
- Constructive abandonment is when one spouse has no choice but to move out of the marital home. For instance, you may have needed to leave the marital home because of some form of abuse.
- Lockout abandonment is when a spouse changes the locks on the marital home to force the other spouse to leave.
- Criminal abandonment involves a criminal act. The most common example is when a spouse is a caregiver and abandons the other.
The Requirements for Abandonment
Under New Jersey law, there are four elements that you need to prove to establish abandonment:
- The spouses did not live together for at least one year.
- The spouses disagreed that they should be separated.
- The spouse claiming abandonment did not initiate the separation.
- The abandoning spouse did not support the other during the abandonment.
There May Be Factual Nuances Surrounding Abandonment
Abandonment is not as clear-cut as it may seem. You must prove numerous issues before the court will rule in your favor. You may claim abandonment and be forced to overcome your spouse’s defenses. A spouse will rarely admit to abandoning the other because there can be significant financial consequences.
You should hire a lawyer when you argue abandonment as grounds for divorce. The stakes can be high for you because successfully arguing abandonment can mean a higher share of marital assets and possible alimony. You should hire a lawyer as soon as you suspect you may have grounds for an abandonment claim, even if it has been fewer than 12 months. You may need to lay the groundwork for a successful legal claim. You should never delay getting legal help.
Contact Our Metuchen Divorce Lawyers at Wiley Lavender Maknoor, PC if You Need Legal Help
If you believe your spouse has abandoned your marriage, speak with our Metuchen divorce lawyers at Wiley Lavender Maknoor, PC. Call us at 732-494-6099 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Metuchen, New Jersey, we serve clients in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Union County, and Somerset County.