What is considered abandonment in a marriage in Arizona?

What is considered abandonment in a marriage in Arizona?The term abandonment in Arizona law can mean different things depending upon the situation. Let’s go over them one at a time.

Most commonly, abandonment refers to physically leaving the marital home, in other words, quitting that established residence and moving somewhere else.  You do not violate any criminal or civil laws by doing so. It cannot be used against you in court. Moving out, however, does not discharge any of your legal duties or obligations. Let’s explain.

Arizona allows for no-fault divorces. As such, there is no evidence required that your spouse committed a terrible act, such as adultery or infidelity (deliberate extramarital relations or other forms of infidelity), extreme cruelty (repeated physical or emotional abuse, or both), or another type of abandonment (leaving you and your children alone to manage for yourselves).

If you are the one who moves out, the judge won’t punish you. Your parenting rights, property ownership rights, or anything else linked to the divorce will not be impacted by being the first to leave the house. Yes, you might be required to pay spousal support and child support, at least temporarily while the matter is on the court’s active calendar. This would hold true, however, regardless of who is currently residing in the home or if neither of you are doing so.

Abandonment in Matrimonial Law

In terms of matrimonial law, abandonment is a type of marital misconduct that takes place when one spouse terminates the cohabitation (1) without cause, (2) without the other spouse’s agreement, and (3) without intending to reunite. If the partners’ separation is the result of a mutual arrangement, there has been no abandonment.

Marital abandonment can be viewed as a crime

The 2021 Arizona Revised Statutes Title 13, Criminal Code § 13-3610 states, “A married person, having sufficient ability to provide for his or her spouse’s support or who is able to earn the means of such spouse’s support, who knowingly abandons and leaves such spouse in a destitute condition, is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.”

When one spouse willfully cuts off all ties with their family and has no intention of coming back, this is known as marital abandonment. This includes neglecting to fulfill financial responsibilities and support obligations without a valid excuse.

Moving out of the family home to establish a temporary or permanent separation does not constitute abandonment unless the abandoning spouse also refuses to give any form of support. This is referred to as “willful desertion” and is a specific reason for divorce in several fault-based divorce laws.

Is locking a spouse out of the marital home considered abandonment?

The most common instance of abandonment is when one partner unexpectedly vacates the conjugal home without cause or consent. But in other cases, such as when one spouse locks the other out of the shared home, it is possible to establish abandonment. Justification for the abandoning, such as mistreatment by one spouse toward the other that necessitates the exclusion, is a defense to abandonment in matrimonial law.

Although an abandoning spouse still has the legal right to their property, the abandoned spouse is free to use some or all of the assets in the marital house as they deem appropriate. This covers the property’s sale. However, it’s usually wise to consult with legal counsel before taking any significant action.

In cases of abandonment, property rights do differ from state to state. Most of the time, a spouse who leaves has lost all property rights and the ability to decide what happens to abandoned real estate and personal possessions. The “right of occupation” is another legal privilege that the abandoned spouse enjoys, and it provides them an advantage in discussions to come to a final agreement.

Making the decision to leave the marital or partner house might be difficult. Consult a knowledgeable Arizona family law attorney if you have any questions.

Contact us

Your rights will be explained by Goldman Law, LLC, along with the complicated legal concerns involved, such as abandonment. In order to collect and present sufficient evidence in court to support your case, you need the assistance of an expert divorce lawyer. We will support you and assist you in rebutting your spouse’s allegations of abandonment.

Our skilled family lawyers are available to assist. For a private consultation, call our Arizona office at (602) 698-5520 right away.