The Truth to Common Divorce Rumors (Part 2)

By Jennifer M. Painedivorce truths

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

Note: This is Part 2 of a three-part series on the truth to common divorce rumors. Part 1 examined “Nice Guys Finish Last” and Part 3 looked at “She’ll Get Half of Everything.”

Common Divorce Rumor #2: “You Can Get Him For Abandonment

Kind of. When clients ask me about this rumor, they usually mean either (1) they have to prove abandonment to get divorced or (2) they can get money if their spouse abandoned them.

They sit in my office and sift through Facebook photos and e-mails and written statements from friends, starting with “To Whom It May Concern,” to offer proof that their spouse has deserted them for another, visions of dollar signs for the punishment the judge will dole floating in their heads.

Now in all states, you do not need to prove a wrong to get a divorce. These states are “no fault” divorce states, meaning the spouse seeking the divorce need not prove the other spouse left, or yelled, or cheated, or lied, or gambled away the savings, or anything else.

The only thing to “prove” to obtain the divorce is an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage, which the spouse “proves” by saying it is true. Even in those few states that require fault for divorce, abandonment is but one basis, and most include an irretrievable breakdown basis.

However, abandonment for an appreciable time without the intent to support one’s spouse is a crime in some states. In Michigan, for example, a spouse is liable for spousal support and may be charged with a felony if he deserts his spouse or child more.

Merely leaving is insufficient, however; the left-behind spouse must be wholly destitute and incapable of supporting herself, or he must have willfully neglected a support order. And that is when the prosecutor takes the case. These are old laws, rarely enforced except in the most egregious circumstances.

So, most of you can put those photos and e-mails and letters aside.

 

Note: This is Part 2 of a three-part series on the truth to common divorce rumors. Part 1 examined “Nice Guys Finish Last” and Part 3 looked at “She’ll Get Half of Everything.”

 

Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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