Separation Rights and Abandonment in Vermont

By Cindy Chung

When a husband or wife chooses to leave the marital home, the abandoned spouse often faces financial worries or legal concerns. Spousal abandonment may result in civil penalties if a spouse commits spousal desertion according to Vermont law. Abandonment of a spouse can also affect each spouse's family law rights if a husband or wife decides to file for a legal separation in Vermont.

Definition of Spousal Desertion

In some states, the abandonment of a spouse violates each spouse's marital right to financial support from the other spouse. In Vermont, state law establishes spousal desertion as a civil offense. The state defines spousal desertion as the deliberate choice to withhold financial support while allowing the husband or wife to become destitute. However, the state does not allow spousal desertion charges if the non-supportive spouse does not have the financial ability to provide support.

Penalties for Spousal Desertion

As a civil offense in Vermont, the abandonment of a spouse and a lack of financial support qualifying as spousal desertion may result in legal penalties and fines. State law sets a maximum sentence of imprisonment for two years. The state may also require payment of a fine in an amount up to $300. The state may take a fine paid by a husband or wife for spousal desertion and use the money toward support of the deserted spouse.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Grounds for Legal Separation

Abandonment of a spouse also serves as one of the grounds available to get a legal separation in Vermont. Legal separation involves many of the same legal issues included in a divorce, but does not free the spouses to remarry. Vermont domestic relations laws allow a legal separation based on any of the grounds established for divorce in the state. Abandonment qualifies a husband or wife to file for divorce if the missing spouse has been absent for at least seven years and has not communicated with the abandoned husband or wife during that period of time. In addition, Vermont state laws allow divorce based on willful desertion. A spouse can obtain a legal separation or divorce in Vermont based on desertion if the other spouse has the means to provide financial support but refuses to do so.

Legal Separation Rights

A spouse can file for a legal separation in Vermont by completing a Summons and Complaint for Legal Separation. The spouse receiving the complaint has a right to file a response within a specified period of time. If the court does not receive a response, the spouse requesting a legal separation may be able to get a judgment that does not consider the missing spouse's preferences. The terms of the legal separation, which may include child custody or property division issues, become legally binding on the absent spouse. For example, the court may apply Vermont marital property laws to make an equitable distribution of the couple's property.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Desertion Penalty in a Maryland Divorce



Related articles

What Disqualifies a Spouse From Receiving Alimony in Arizona?

Alimony, known as spousal maintenance in Arizona, often becomes a disputed legal issue when a couple ends a marriage. Spousal support can affect both spouses' finances after divorce. One spouse may worry about not receiving enough alimony, while the other spouse might fear the court will require too much alimony. In Arizona, state law establishes a list of factors to determine whether a spouse qualifies to receive spousal maintenance.

South Carolina Divorce Laws Dealing With Abandonment

Some states use the terms "abandonment" and "desertion" interchangeably to describe the act of one spouse leaving the other. However, South Carolina mentions only desertion in the state's divorce laws. Abandonment does not meet the state's legal requirements to serve as fault grounds for divorce unless the abandonment qualifies as desertion. In a fault-based divorce, South Carolina divorce laws allow desertion to affect each spouse's rights regarding property, alimony and child custody.

The Annulment of Marriage Due to Abandonment

Abandonment by a husband or wife often causes emotional, financial and legal stress. The abandoned spouse may want to know whether abandonment can result in an annulment of the marriage. Although abandonment generally does not serve as grounds for annulment, an annulment may be possible if the abandoned spouse can establish other grounds to invalidate the marriage. In addition, spousal abandonment or desertion may become grounds for divorce.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Legal Remedy for an Abandoned Spouse

Abandonment by a spouse can be a stressful experience, especially if the abandonment causes financial strain or legal ...

Abandonment Laws in Alabama Regarding Marriage

Alabama state laws establish spousal rights in marriage and divorce after abandonment. In particular, Alabama law ...

How to Divorce if Your Spouse Abandons the Relationship in Washington

Spousal abandonment can be a difficult experience for the husband or wife left behind. An abandoned spouse might choose ...

Can a Third Party in Virginia Be Held in a Divorce Case in an Extramarital Affair?

If an extramarital affair leads to divorce, the jilted spouse might want to know whether Virginia laws provide a way to ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED