Pennsylvania is a no-fault divorce state which means that in most cases, there is no need to prove or justify a divorce filing. However, there are some situations that demand more aggressive divorce action than the no-fault process allows. When this is the case, Pennsylvania also provides a few possibilities for filing for an at-fault divorce, and marriage abandonment is one of them.

There are a few good reasons for wanting to pursue an at-fault divorce. You may need the divorce to move more quickly than the at-fault divorce allow. You may hope to qualify for spousal support, and that may be more likely depending upon your situation. Finally, you may believe that your spouse is going to refuse to accept or agree to the divorce. When that is the case, an at-fault divorce may be your only option. If appropriate, you may file based upon marriage abandonment, but in order to do so, you must be sure that you meet the criteria.

The criteria for marriage abandonment is very specific. The spouse that is filing for divorce has to prove that their partner “has committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years.” This one-year absence must be continuous, malicious, deliberate and final and without justification – in other words, a person cannot be accused of abandonment if their departure was the result of abuse or an affair. It also can’t be considered abandonment if the wronged spouse was provided notification and financial support related to the departure. Finally, desertion may be applicable, and you may be eligible to use it as grounds even if your spouse doesn’t actually leave your home. If they have acted in a way that is cruel or despicable, it is interpreted as leaving the relationship, even if they don’t physically leave. Refusing to have sex, take care of the home, or behaving in a way that endangers your life, safety, health or self-respect can all qualify as this type of cruelty and desertion.

Though abandonment may feel painfully clear to you, it is not always easy to prove in a court of law. For help with filing for an at-fault divorce or to get the answers to any divorce questions, contact us today.

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