This is from the home site under “Domestic Violence”:

“Can I just leave the house and not come back?
You can leave the house and not come back and you may take the children with you unless a court order directs you otherwise. It may be inadvisable for you to leave the house without talking to an attorney. Leaving the house without a good reason may affect your alimony situation. If you leave the house you may also be unable to return until after a court divides the property. This process will take considerable time and you may not end up with possession of the house after the property has been divided. The best advice is to stay in the house until after you discuss the matter with a lawyer unless your spouse is violent. If your spouse is violent you must take all steps necessary to protect your safety and the safety of your children.”

heres the whole situation. the house is owned by his parents. she was told that they would be given the house as a wedding present. so she spent some money on remodels before the wedding. then the in laws changed their mind and decided to keep the house in their name. so the wife knows she has no legal right to the house or anything other than the possessions she came with. they have no children together.

the man is an alcoholic and has been smoking pot and taking pain pills. he reads her emails, listens to her on the phone, and hides her mail.

she has made arrangements to move, but is very nervous about a separation confrontation considering his drug use and controlling behavior.

he is on disability so we are thinking alimony wouldn’t be considered anyways. she is dependent on him as he wont let her get a job. my main question is does his behavior constitute as an excuse to leave without it coming back on her to pay him alimony or to hinder the divorce proceedings after a year is over? she just wants to be away from him and really doesn’t care about alimony or the house. since there is no formal agreement regarding the ownership of the house being promised to them, would she ever be able to recoup the money she spent remodeling the house?

thank you so much for your help.

kristin payton smith

I don’t think she can re-coup any of the improvements made to the house. If she makes her intentions clear…that she is not happy and wants to separate…then she should leave. If she is dependent on him, then she wouldn’t have to pay him alimony.
If she fears for her safety, then I don’t see how abandonment would come into play.

I would encourage her to speak to a lawyer before she does anything. I know she doesn’t have a job, but maybe parents or family could lend her the consultation fee. I have a hard time believing the man would have a bunch of money to fight her for leaving since there are no children or property involved.

His behavior may be enough for the court to consider that he constructively abandoned her and therefore her leaving was not abandonment. In order to know for sure she would need to meet with an attorney and discuss her specific situation.

P.S. Please feel free to bring up this or any other topic on our live call-in show every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. EST. Visit radio.rosen.com/live for details

Helena M. Nevicosi
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

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I have been reading these posts about abandonment and I have a question. What if the dependent spouse is the one who leaves? In this situation, the husband is controlling and possessive (not yet physically violent), but afraid that a separation conversation could turn ugly. Can this come back to haunt the spouse who leaves even if she is justified in getting out of the situation? Please advise. Thank you.

kristin payton smith