Under Maryland Divorce law, what constitutes "abandonment" and when does it occur? This is a question recently posed on a public on-line forum by a wife who was upset when she found evidence that her husband have seen a divorce lawyer. Her response was to start spending nights at her mother's house. She was concerned that this might constitute grounds for her husband to obtain a divorce. The short answer is "no". However, it is important to understand the underlying principles involved.
One of the grounds for divorce under Maryland Law is desertion, also known as abandonment. This means the unjustified separation of one spouse from another with the intention to end the marriage. In order to constitute grounds for divorce it must continue for at least 12 months. If both parties agree to the separation, there can be no desertion. In the absence of an agreement to separate, there must be proof that the deserting spouse has acted with an intention of ending the marriage. This can be shown by the words used or conduct.
The fact that husband and wife have continued to have sexual relations, means that no desertion has occurred. On the other hand, if one party refuses to have sexual relations with the other, without justification, this may be sufficient evidence of desertion. However, refusal for 12 months does not constitute abandonment if there is justification, for example, mistreatment.
If a party finds him or herself in a situation like this, it would be a good idea to seek advice from a Maryland Divorce Lawyer. Seeking advice does not mean that you are planning a divorce. It only means that you are making plans to protect yourself.