Google Screened

Constructive Desertion in Maryland

All relationships go through rough patches, but sometimes, it may be too much for a spouse and they decide they want to leave. Spousal desertion can have legal ramifications. The deserting spouse can be penalized by having to pay higher alimony, and it can also affect the division of property.

In Maryland, there are two types of desertion: actual desertion and constructive desertion. These terms refer to legal grounds for divorce. Each legal ground for divorce has different requirements. To learn more about the appropriate grounds for your divorce, contact our knowledgeable divorce lawyers today.

What Is Actual Desertion?

Actual desertion is when one spouse chooses to leave the marriage without their spouse’s consent, abandoning the marriage. To prove that your spouse engaged in “actual desertion,” you must establish that:

  • You no longer live with your spouse or engage in sexual relations
  • The deserting spouse intended to end the marriage
  • The abandonment was unjustified
  • There is no hope of reconciliation
  • The deserted spouse did not consent to being deserted
  • The desertion lasted for a year or longer

What is Constructive Desertion?

Constructive desertion is when one spouse’s misconduct or mistreatment essentially forces the other spouse to leave the marital home. In this situation, the offending spouse’s conduct has made it impossible for the other spouse to remain in the marital home. If your partner’s misconduct has forced you to leave the marriage, you are the constructively deserted spouse.

If one partner is unhappy in a marriage, and the other partner refuses to change or compromise, divorce is likely to represent a positive change.  However, not all situations will warrant the legal denomination “constructive desertion.” The following circumstances are likely to constitute misconduct warranting constructive desertion:

  • Physical abuse
  • Mental cruelty or emotional abuse
  • Refusing sexual intercourse (typically the aggrieved partner must prove that they shared the same roof, not the same bed, with their partner for one year or more)
  • Requiring a spouse to live with abusive or intrusive in-laws
  • Refusing to relocate to a new town or state

Constructive desertion is rarely due to a single event, although it is not impossible. Direct acts of physical violence may be enough, but some courts have held that solely from a legal standpoint, a single act of direct violence is not sufficient to warrant divorce on grounds of constructive desertion.  For victims of single acts of domestic violence, however, there are plenty of other legal grounds for divorce.

More typically, constructive desertion occurs when there is a pattern of gross misconduct on a persistent, ongoing basis. When one spouse is merely indifferent or fails to demonstrate their love, that indifference typically will not justify constructive desertion. Again, for those who are experiencing this, there are other grounds for divorce more appropriately suited to your situation.

Construction Desertion as a Defense

Constructive desertion is frequently used as a defense to actual desertion.  For example, one spouse abandons the marital home and the abandoned spouse files for divorce, the abandoning spouse will claim that they engaged in constructive desertion to avoid the negative consequences that establishing desertion has in terms of alimony and property distribution.

Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Provide Skilled Representation in All Types of Divorce

At Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, we can help you determine the appropriate grounds for divorce based upon your unique situation. To learn more, contact our Towson divorce lawyers at 443-589-0150 or contact us online. We represent clients throughout Baltimore County, including the communities of Baltimore, Towson, Essex, Columbia, Pikesville, and Bel Air.

av 2019 rating
avvo client choice award
avvo top contributor award
maryland chamber