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Spousal Abandonment in Missouri
In a marriage, one spouse may sometimes abandon the other. In other words, they physically and emotionally leave the marriage and never return. Many people question whether (1) this qualifies as a reason for divorce and (2) whether it can affect how the divorce turns out.
In Missouri, abandonment is a legal basis for divorce when one spouse departs without the other’s approval. Desertion or abandonment is also regarded as occurring when:
- The parties couldn’t come to terms on the departure.
- The respondent/defendant has been missing for six months in a row.
- The petitioner/plaintiff did not provide spousal support.
- The other party did not initiate the departure.
In actuality, each state has its own set of laws. For this reason, it is crucial for a person to consult with an attorney regarding their particular circumstance. However, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, or Oklahoma no longer requires fault (or grounds) in order to obtain a divorce. A no-fault divorce can usually be obtained if the marriage is irretrievably broken or if there are irreconcilable issues.
However, courts may still consider abandonment when deciding whether to grant a divorce. In Missouri, the court may consider whether a party was deserted by their spouse for a period of at least six months before filing for divorce.
The Effects of Abandonment on Your Divorce
Even though you don’t require grounds, the court does take reasons for divorce into account when determining who gets what, how much, and who retains primary custody of the children when it comes to issues like child custody, child support, alimony and maintenance, and the distribution of property. A judge may see you more favorably than the spouse who left if you can establish that your partner simply deserted you.
Hiring a St. Louis divorce attorney to handle your case is the best option to file a lawsuit on grounds of desertion. There are times when it may be difficult to even locate your estranged spouse. If you are unable to locate them on your own, you must file the necessary paperwork for divorce on the grounds of desertion or abandonment and have your lawyer submit it on your behalf. After that, you’ll need to decide whether to proceed to mediation or have your lawyers work out the specifics of a court case.
You will be awarded a divorce if it is uncontested and your partner agrees to the terms of the divorce order. Your partner can oppose it, in which case the court will resolve the matter.
The Effect of Abandonment in Spousal Inheritance
In Missouri, a spouse may lose the right to inherit from their spouse if they “abandon” them. RSMo’s Section 474.140 states:
“If any married person voluntarily leaves his or her spouse and goes away and continues with an adulterer or abandons his or her spouse without reasonable cause and continues to live separate and apart from his or her spouse for one whole year next preceding his or her death, or dwells with another in a state of adultery continuously, such spouse is forever barred from his or her inheritance rights, homestead allowance, exempt property or any statutory allowances from the estate of his or her spouse unless such spouse is voluntarily reconciled to him or her and resumes cohabitation with him or her.”
Getting Legal Aid
Divorce is never an easy choice, but if your partner simply left, you had absolutely no say in the matter. The only way to acquire the assistance and support you require moving forward is to retain a St. Charles divorce attorney and let them administer your case. You do have grounds to file for divorce due to desertion or abandonment if you have been left on your own for longer than six months; Missouri courts do not see someone who simply abandons their family favorably.
Contact a St. Charles divorce attorney
Call Shea Kohl Law, LC right away at (636) 946-9999 so that we can go over the specifics of your case. Our lawyers will give you expert legal counsel and assist you in making the best decisions for your circumstance.
Call Shea Kohl Law, LC at (636) 946-9999
or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation.
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Shea Kohl Law, LC serves clients in Missouri including St. Charles, Troy and Lincoln and throughout Warren and St. Louis counties. We also serve clients in Illinois.