There are many causes of Divorce on Long Island. Perhaps your spouse has cheated on you and committed the ultimate betrayal, or maybe you are the guilty party who is now being denied access to the marital residence. On the other hand, perhaps he or she has just stopped supporting you. You may be wondering what recourse is available to you and how you can go about getting yourself and your family back on its feet. If the thought of a divorce has entered your mind, you will be thankful to know that under New York’s Domestic Relations Law, abandonment by the spouse for more than one year is an express ground for granting a divorce.
What are Some Examples of Behaviors that Qualify as Spousal Abandonment?
Maybe you are now wondering if what you or your spouse has done qualifies as abandonment, which seems like such a harsh and negative word. As always, consult the specifics of your case with your Long Island divorce attorney to ensure you are being given the proper legal information, but the following are a few examples of things which the New York Courts have declared sufficient (and insufficient) criteria to establish abandonment and therefore grounds for divorce.
Abandonment by lockout. This occurs when one spouse changes the locks on the marital residence or wherever he or say may be residing. Upon changing the locks, the spouse subsequently prohibits his or her partner access to the marital or other residence. However, there are limitations on this doctrine that negate the assumption of abandonment by lockout. New York courts have held that if the lock-out is justified, such as the spouse who is being excluded engaged in an extra marital affair, there cannot be abandonment by lock-out on behalf of the excluding spouse. Additionally, abandonment by lockout is justified when it is the result of a spouse’s fear for his or her life or safety. Therefore, in order for a lock-out to qualify as abandonment, it must be unjustified and done purposefully.
- Refusal to engage in marital relations. If your spouse continuously refuses to engage in marital relations, you may have grounds for abandonment. However, again these refusals cannot be justified, such as refusal due to the requesting party having engaged in an extra marital affair. Rather, in order to qualify for abandonment the refusal must be purposeful, unjustified, and willful. While the refusal of such relations may cause for hard feelings, that alone is not enough to establish that your spouse abandoned you, it has to be shown that it was done with a negative purpose.
- Leaving the marital home without the intent to return. If your spouse has left the marital residence and does not intend to return, this situation likely presents one in which you may be granted a divorce on grounds of abandonment. A supporting fact here would be if your spouse has left the marital residence and has cut off all support, which of course includes financial support. However again, your spouse’s leaving without the intent to return must be unjustified.
- Protective orders. A protective order, which is a binding legal document issued by the courts, can legally prevent a spouse from entering the marital residence or being within a certain distance from his or her partner. If a spouse obtains a protective order prohibiting his or her partner from entering the marital residence, this does not qualify as abandonment and therefore cannot be grounds for divorce.
The above-mentioned are only a few examples of instances in which Long Island Divorce Courts have discussed abandonment as grounds for divorce. While some of the discussed actions may seem hurtful, so long as they were done with adequate justification, courts are reluctant to define them as abandonment. Each situation is different; in one instance a lockout may constitute abandonment but fall short in the next. Therefore, be sure to discuss the specific facts and circumstances of your individual situation with your Long Island divorce attorney in order to reach the best conclusion possible.
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