Mississippi Divorce Attorney Answers: What is Desertion?

Mississippi courts require couples to provide them with a good reason why they should be granted a divorce. There are twelve of these reasons, which are referred to as the grounds for divorce. Some of the possible grounds for divorce are cited more commonly than others by couples who wish to call it quits. One of the most common grounds for divorce in Mississippi is desertion.

Desertion may seem like a simple matter. If your spouse leaves you without your permission, then you may think that you have been deserted. Unfortunately, it is not that easy. In order to prove desertion, you must provide the court with evidence that your spouse’s absence was willful, continuous, and obstinate.

A willful desertion implies that the spouse who left intended not only to leave the home, but also to leave the marriage. While it is fairly easy to prove that your spouse has left, by providing information like a lease for his new residence, or bills from the utility services that he has set up for his new residence, proving intent to leave the marriage may be a bit trickier. That information will likely have to come from your spouse themselves, through interrogatories, depositions, and testimony.

Your feelings regarding the marriage are also important in building a case for a divorce based upon desertion. In order for desertion to occur, your spouse must be absent without your consent. You can show the court that you remained willing to reconcile with your spouse throughout the course of his or her absence through your own testimony, as well as the testimony of people that you know who may have had conversations with you about that topic.

For a desertion to be continuous, it must last for a year or longer. Perhaps even more importantly, the one-year “clock” gets reset if your spouse returns to you and you welcome them back into your home. In some cases, the court may be willing to leave the “clock” running through a brief return to intimacy if you can provide evidence that your spouse, in engaging in intimate relations with you, did not intend to fully recommit himself or herself to the marital relationship. A spouse’s departure which began as an absence for a legitimate reason, such as a business trip, can turn into a desertion scenario if the spouse, while absent, decides not to return. If this is the case with your situation, you will have to be able to provide information about how your spouse’s plans changed over time, and when you believe that the one-year desertion “clock” started ticking.

There are a few ways in which a spouse can be shown to be obstinate, for the purposes of supporting a conclusion that desertion has occurred. For example, refusal to provide the left behind spouse with any financial support is one way to show that the spouse who left is behaving in an obstinate manner. Also, a refusal to talk about reconciling, or to attempt reconciliation may also help to show that your spouse was obstinate in remaining away from you.

In some cases, an abused spouse must flee from his or her home in order to avoid further harm. The law protects these spouses from claims of desertion being asserted against them by enabling them to file for divorce based upon the grounds of constructive desertion. Constructive desertion may also be asserted in some cases where one spouse refuses to engage in sexual intimacy with the other for an extended period of time.

If your spouse has deserted you, you may be interested in divorcing them. In a matter as important as a divorce, it is essential that you retain an experienced Mississippi Divorce Attorney who understands the divorce process. To learn more about how Jackson area divorce attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you, call our office today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule your free initial consultation.

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Mississippi Divorce Lawyer Answers: What is Desertion?
Mississippi Divorce Attorney discusses what constitutes desertion.