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Can you divorce a spouse who walked out? What you need to know

In most cases, a couple that decides to divorce can do so by making it clear to a judge that there had been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. However, what happens when one spouse simply leaves and never comes back?

If someone walks out on their spouse, their partner still has options for divorce. Alabama also allows divorce on the grounds of “abandonment,” which has a specific legal definition for divorce. Below, we outline the requirements for divorce based on abandonment.

What do we mean by “abandonment?”

Alabama law gives courts the power to end marriages based on the “voluntary abandonment from bed and board.” If someone leaves their spouse of their own volition and without their spouse’s consent for at least one year, they have abandoned the marriage. They must be absent both from the home and from the relationship.

Are divorce proceedings different when based on abandonment?

Someone seeking a divorce on the grounds of abandonment must do things a little differently than others. First, they must be able to prove the abandonment – either through direct or constructive evidence.

State law also requires that the spouse seeking the divorce must at least try to serve the other person with divorce papers. In these situations, the other spouse may be difficult or impossible to track down. However, if you make a reasonable effort and they fail to respond within a specific time frame, the divorce can continue without their input.

The first step to moving on

An Alabama divorce attorney can help those who are unsure of where to start in dealing with a spouse’s abandonment. They can assist with gathering evidence to prove the abandonment as well as determine the best way to serve the divorce papers. No one should have to go through this alone. 

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Law Office of Sebrina L. Martin, PLLC | 6728 Taylor Court |Montgomery, AL 36117 | Phone: 334-513-7898 | Map & Directions