How Abandonment can Affect Your Divorce or Legal Separation

March 27, 2024 | By Doppelt and Forney
How Abandonment can Affect Your Divorce or Legal Separation

When one party “walks” out on a marriage or out of a relationship where there is a child or children, sometimes it means that he/she has walked out on the children by that marriage as well. In San Diego Superior Court, there is no abandonment of property rights by leaving a marriage.

For example, if one spouse leaves their house and does not return, this does not mean that the other spouse will receive 100% of the community property interest. Leaving the children and not continuing the relationship with them, however, can be considered in the parenting plan. While parents may divorce each other, they never divorce their children.

Abandonment on the Big Screen

We saw this happen in the outstanding Will Smith movie called The Pursuit of Happiness. In this movie, the wife left the husband despite having a child. The husband did make some financial mistakes but she was complicit as well since she was there when he had the idea of buying all these medical machines and putting all their eggs in one basket.

When the market changed and doctors decided these machines were not necessary, their future became gloomy very quickly. But this is not any excuse for a spouse to abandon the child and this is what this wife did in this movie. She even went across the country so her child could never see her!

While this is a movie there are cases in San Diego in which financial decisions during marriage have resulted in one spouse leaving the state of California either to look for work or for other factors.

Abandonment can Impact Custody

If a spouse walks out on the whole family leaving the other spouse to care for the children, this may become a ‘de facto’ custody arrangement. What this implies is that the abandoned spouse gets sole legal and sole physical custody because of the nature of the abandonment and that the other parent is not available for parenting of the minor children no matter what the reason.

Abandonment does not Preclude Payment of Child Support When a parent walks out of a marriage and abandons the children it may imply their denial of contribution toward financial support of the family.

As there is an inverse relationship between the percentage of custody and visitation and the amount of child support, the parent who leaves and does not return may pay more in child support than if there was a joint legal and joint physical parenting plan.

Seek an Experienced Divorce Law Attorney

Abandonment cases, particularly where children are concerned, can become quite complex. There are several issues at stake unlike a normal divorce. Abandonment brings a new element into the issue.

An experienced divorce attorney’s services are an option. Residents of San Diego can avail of the services of Doppelt and Forney, APLC a family law firm with particular experience in divorce law and all related issues.