Abandonment


#1

My spouse walked out on me with just a note on the kitchen table and he left the keys to the house. I knew we were having problems but leading up to his departure, he had me believing that we would work them out. What constitutues abandonment? What effect does abandonment have as far as property(his name is not on the mortage)? What about the bills that we acquired during the marriage? Is he partially responsible? All of the tools that were purchased on Lowes, he took with him. Could the martial bills be a bargaining chip when it comes to him asking for any money from the house?


#2

Over the years the impact of abandonment has dissipated in NC family law. It really only matters for divorce from bed and board, but he has already left the residence so this wouldn’t be something you would necessarily need to get unless you need to cut off certain property rights before you get divorced. It’s really not relevant for alimony either. If you cannot demonstrate you are a dependant spouse you cannot get alimony anyway, regardless of any abandonment. You can include a claim for abandonment, but the honest truth is that not much will come of it.

A claim of abandonment, while encompassing more than economic factors, does not carry much weight in court these days, and many spouses leave the home prior to having an agreement in effect, especially if the monthly bills for the dependent spouse are taken care of. If you would not be considered to be a dependent spouse, then his abandoning you has no impact on your divorce. He would be jointly responsible with you for all marital debts incurred. All property, including personal, would also need to be divided.

I would suggest you propose a separation agreement to settle your property issues. If he doesn’t want to agree, then you would need to file for equitable distribution before your divorce is finalized.