What Are Desertion Divorce Papers?

By Kay Lee

Although divorce law is established at the state level, there are some common themes and requirements among the states. For example, individuals seeking divorce must have grounds to file. The permitted grounds for divorce vary by state, but are typically sorted into two categories – fault and no-fault divorce, with some states allowing only no-fault divorce. The majority of states, however, recognize desertion or abandonment as no-fault grounds for divorce.

Although divorce law is established at the state level, there are some common themes and requirements among the states. For example, individuals seeking divorce must have grounds to file. The permitted grounds for divorce vary by state, but are typically sorted into two categories – fault and no-fault divorce, with some states allowing only no-fault divorce. The majority of states, however, recognize desertion or abandonment as no-fault grounds for divorce.

No-Fault Divorce

No-fault divorce is a legal means for spouses to obtain a divorce without having to claim a reason to terminate the marriage, such as cruelty. California was the first state to introduce no-fault divorce, and now every state permits no-fault divorces. The unilateral nature of no-fault divorce, as opposed to the contested nature of fault divorce, facilitated the rise of divorces over the past several decades.

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What Is Desertion?

Desertion occurs when an individual willfully leaves or abandons his spouse, intending to terminate the marriage. As the judge noted in Sinha v. Sinha, merely being physically separated is not sufficient to claim desertion, as there are many legitimate reasons a spouse may spend time away from home for extended periods of time. These reasons may not be enough to support a claim of desertion if the absent spouse does not intend to abandon the marriage. In addition to physical desertion, some states define desertion as the cessation of financial support. Another type of desertion is constructive desertion -- when a spouse deserts the marriage in a non-physical way, such as treating their spouse in an abusive manner.

Claiming Desertion as Grounds for Divorce

In order to claim desertion when you file for divorce, you must be prepared to show the judge proof that your spouse intended to end the marriage upon deserting you and you did not consent to such desertion. You must also provide evidence that you have not lived with your spouse for the period of time required by your state's law on desertion – this is typically one year.

Special Considerations

If you are seeking a divorce after your spouse has deserted you, serving your spouse with the legal papers to commence the divorce action may present certain problems as you may not know where your spouse is. If this is the case, most states will require you to make a good faith effort to locate your spouse. Though rules differ from state to state, generally you must verify your efforts to find your spouse by signing an affidavit. If you are unable to locate your spouse, you will be unable to serve divorce papers claiming desertion personally on your spouse. Accordingly, state laws provide for alternative service methods, such as publishing a notice in a newspaper.

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Divorce Laws in Tennessee Regarding Willful Desertion

References

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Legal Remedy for an Abandoned Spouse

Abandonment by a spouse can be a stressful experience, especially if the abandonment causes financial strain or legal problems. If the abandonment lasts for a long period of time, the abandoned husband or wife might need to learn more about legal remedies. The legal options available often depend on each state's laws regarding marriage and divorce. An abandoned spouse may benefit from discussing the relevant remedies with an attorney who practices law in the state.

Types of Divorce in South Dakota

When spouses decide to end their marriage, one or both of them must file for divorce. To be eligible to file for divorce in South Dakota, the filing spouse, called the Plaintiff, must be a resident of the state. The divorce petition must be filed in the Plaintiff's county of residence, unless the Defendant, the other spouse, also resides in South Dakota, in which case the petition may be filed in the Defendant's county of residence.

The Justification for a Divorce

Every state requires that parties filing for divorce give a legally recognized reason for seeking to end the marriage. These are called grounds, which can be categorized as either fault or no-fault. A few states offer only no-fault grounds, while others recognize both types. Each state has its own set of grounds for divorce, although they are often quite similar. No matter what, grounds for divorce must be proven before the court will grant you and your spouse a final judgment of divorce.

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