What are the Consequences of Abandonment in Ohio Divorces?

Divorce proceedings can be challenging, especially when you’re dealing with a spouse that you feel has abandoned you. You might feel lost, not just because your partner has left you in the dark, but because you’ve also got to handle a divorce with someone who hasn’t been a part of your family’s life for a long time.

In Ohio, abandonment can impact divorce proceedings. Understanding the legal implications of abandonment is crucial for anyone going through a divorce. This blog will explain what constitutes abandonment, its legal consequences, and why having a lawyer is essential.

What is Abandonment in Ohio?

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There is really not an abandonment issue in Ohio. There is not a cause of action or a grounds for divorce that’s called abandonment. It goes towards the separation of the parties for grounds of divorce, whether he or she is incarcerated or if he or she has just vacated the home. What is relevant on when someone is not around in the relationship with the children, mostly, is whether that is in the best interest of the children. How does that impact their relationship with the party that has not come around for some period of time? So, it is not a cause of action, it’s not a grounds, necessarily, but it is a factor in the best interest of the children.

Need more information about abandonment in Ohio? Call Dungan & LeFevre today.


Understanding Abandonment in Ohio

Abandonment, in the context of Ohio divorce law, occurs when one spouse leaves the marital home with no intention of returning. This absence must typically last for a specific duration, often one year, to be considered abandonment.

The Key Criteria to Understanding Abandonment

  • Intent to Leave Permanently: The spouse must have left without the intention of returning. Temporary separations or absences do not qualify as abandonment.
  • Without Justification: The leaving spouse must not have a valid reason for their departure. Justifiable reasons, such as escaping abuse or being asked to leave, may not be considered abandonment. Courts will examine the context of the departure to determine if it was justified.
  • Lack of Communication: The abandoning spouse often ceases all communication and support, contributing to the perception of abandonment. This includes not only physical absence but also emotional and financial withdrawal.
  • Duration: The absence generally needs to last for at least one year to meet the legal threshold for abandonment in Ohio. However, shorter periods may be considered if accompanied by other factors demonstrating an intent to abandon.

Abandonment vs. Legal Separation

Abandonment and legal separation are distinct legal concepts in Ohio family law. Abandonment occurs when one spouse leaves the marital home without intention to return and without justification, often leading to grounds for a fault-based divorce.

In contrast, legal separation is a formal process where a married couple lives apart while remaining legally married. Legal separation involves court orders for matters like property division, spousal support, and child custody, similar to divorce, but it does not terminate the marriage.

Understanding these differences is crucial for navigating marital issues and pursuing appropriate legal actions.

What are the Legal Consequences of Abandonment?

When your spouse abandons you, there are legal implications for your divorce. Each case is unique, but the court will take your situation into consideration.

Some aspects that might be affected include:

  • Divorce Grounds: Abandonment provides grounds for a fault-based divorce, based on Ohio law. This can influence the court’s decisions on various aspects of the divorce.
  • Property Division: Courts may view abandonment unfavorably, potentially leading to less favorable property division outcomes for the abandoning spouse.
  • Child Custody: Abandonment is a critical factor in custody decisions. Courts prioritize the child’s best interests, and a parent who abandons the family may be deemed less suitable for primary custody.
  • Child Support: The abandoning parent remains responsible for child support, regardless of their absence. Courts ensure that the child’s financial needs are met.

Proving Abandonment in Your Ohio Divorce

If you claim that your spouse has abandoned you and you are trying to use that argument in your divorce, you will need to prove it to the court. Gathering evidence to build your case is crucial, especially if your soon-to-be-ex is going to deny they abandoned you.

You can use a variety of evidence, and your attorney can provide guidance on what’s related to your case and how to get started collecting it.

Useful evidence can include:

Documenting their absence

You can use records that can show they weren’t physically present at your home — utility bills, lease agreements, or witness testimonies.

Showing intent to abandon

You can show that your spouse left without intending to come back. If they texted you or e-mailed you their plans to stay away, that’s critical evidence.

Demonstrate a lack of justification

You can argue that there was no reason for your spouse to leave the household. If you can show the court that there wasn’t a valid reason for their abandonment, you have a stronger case. You would be showing them that there was no abuse or another reason to abandon the household.

Show they stopped contacting you

If you can show that the spouse ceased all forms of communication and financial support, you can reinforce the idea they meant to abandon you. Bank statements, financial records, and affidavits from family members can be useful here.

Why You Need a Divorce Lawyer in Your Abandonment Case

A divorce can be emotionally taxing. If you’ve been dealing with an absent spouse, it’s understandable why you’re feeling overwhelmed. The right family law attorney can make you feel heard and get you results to protect your family and future.

Divorce lawyers have experience helping clients explore their legal options, and they can review the details of a divorce to suggest the path forward. Attorneys will take steps toward achieving your goal. If you are arguing that your spouse abandoned your family, your attorney will make sure to gather the evidence necessary to make this argument in court. They can even find ways to leverage this to your advantage.

Each case is different, and your attorney should take your thoughts into consideration. Make sure you find the attorney who will give you the attention you need.

Call Dungan & LeFevre Today

Abandonment is a complicated subject. If you’re pursuing divorce with an absent spouse, you should work with an attorney that understands this complex subject and is ready to hear your story.

The divorce attorneys at Dungan & LeFevre have helped many clients work through difficult divorces. We understand that these are challenging times. We’re here to help you work through them. Call 937-339-0511 or use our online form to schedule your consultation.

Work With Our Miami County Legal Team

Whatever your demands, Dungan & LeFevre is the full-service law firm you need. We can help you explore your options, guide you through challenges, and represent you in court. You can rely on our experience and knowledge to steer you to your best decision for the most reasonable price. Get started with a consultation.