Determining if Moving Out is Considered Abandonment

When a spouse begins considering divorce and starting over, there is often concern over when and how to move out. During the pendency of the divorce, living together can become impossible. Rehashing old fights and riding the waves of emotion that accompany a split can be too much to bear – especially while work and the kids still require full attention. Pursuant to fault based divorce, there are different qualifications for when moving out is considered abandonment and how that is determined.

Of course, this determination is based entirely upon the situation and manner in which moving out takes place. For individuals who are aware of fault-based divorce in Pennsylvania, desertion or abandonment can be a ground for divorce; those who are concerned if moving out is considered abandonment should first assess the terms on which it is taking place.

Generally, moving out is not considered desertion or abandonment provided the move does not happen in accordance with the grounds for fault based divorce found in 23 Pa.C.S. § 3301(a).

The statute explains that abandonment has taken place if the spouse has “committed willful and malicious desertion”, which indicates a sudden absence that is intended to hurt the other party. Additionally, the statute indicates the absence took place without reasonable cause for one year or more.

Before you move, you should speak with a divorce attorney who can help you understand the ramifications of moving and if moving out is considered abandonment. A divorce lawyer can also help determine if your spouse committed this ground for fault-based divorce. Running through the below checklist will give you the best idea of whether or not moving out is considered abandonment pursuant to Pennsylvania fault based divorce:

  1. Was it on purpose?
  2. Was it done maliciously?
  3. Has he or she been moved out for over a year?
  4. Was there a reasonable justification for moving out such as abuse?
  5. Is the other spouse innocent of any wrongful act such as having an affair or abuse?

Case law also points to a continuity in the relocation from the home; short bouts of time staying with a friend or family would not be considered abandonment. It must be ongoing for at least a year for the absence to be considered desertion or abandonment.

Contacting a divorce attorney is important for those considering relocating or moving out of the marital residence, especially if children are to accompany the parent. Moving out may not be considered abandonment; however, it could affect other rights or result in difficulty with support and custody matters.

Call the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Bucks County divorce lawyer, at (215) 295-4515. Or submit an inquiry form and a member of our team will be in touch shortly to schedule an appointment.