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Baltimore County & Towson Divorce Lawyer | Grounds For Divorce | Desertion.

Establishing Desertion As Grounds for Divorce in Maryland 

Desertion is an unjustified cessation of the marital relationship. For purposes of obtaining a limited divorce, it does not matter how long the desertion has lasted provided that that one party deliberately intended to abandon the other party. Depending on the length of separation, desertion can be grounds for both a limited or absolute divorce. The following elements must exist, at the same time, for there to be desertion: 

  • The parties no longer physically reside together. 
  • The parties have no sexual relationship after the desertion. 
  • The deserting spouse must intentionally abandon the other spouse.
  • The deserting spouse must intend to end the marriage.
  • The abandonment cannot be justified by the other spouse's bad behavior.

Desertion is the opposite of a mutual and voluntary separation and the refusal to resume cohabitation is good evidence of desertion.  

Constructive Desertion: When the "Good Spouse" Leaves 

Constructive desertion exists when a spouse moves out (or deserts) in order to protect his/her health, safety and/or self-respect. The offense must be sufficient to render the continuation of cohabitation intolerable (the judge decides what is "intolerable" on a case-by-case basis). Constructive desertion may also arise out of the refusal to engage in marital relations even while two spouses reside under the same roof as long as they do not share a bedroom and do not engage in cohobation. Constructive desertion must be corroborated with evidence and the value of the evidence is determined by the Circuit Court for Baltimore County Judge. The following are examples of constructive desertion: 

  • The spouse who leaves was the victim of cruelty. 
  • The spouse who leaves was the victim of domestic violence.  
  • The spouse who leaves attempted ot engage in sexual relations with the  other spouse, who refused to engage in sexual relations over a substantial period of time.

Consider: The Court has found that forcing a wife to live with an intolerable and overbearing mother-in-law to be constructive desertion, where the husband did nothing to reign in his out-of-control mother and defend his wife. 

Signs that there is No Desertion: 

In the following situations, there probably is no desertion under Maryland law: 

  • The parties have a Marital Separation Agreement. 
  • The parties sleep in the same bedroom. 
  • The cause for separation is deployment for military service. 
  • The cause of the separation is a domestic violence protective order. 
  • After separating, the parties continue to have sex on a regular basis. 
  • The parties separate to take a "time out" and intend to resume living together in the future. 

Call For a Free Consultation with Top Towson Divorce Lawyer Amar S. Weisman  

Please Call (410) 321-4994 to schedule a Free ConsultationThe purpose of the consultation is to decide whether you want to hire Amar S. Weisman. To obtain legal services, you must pay a retainer, see Policy on Fees/Costs. The law firm is next to the Circuit Court For Baltimore County, at 305 Allegheny Avenue, Towson, MD, 21204. We represent clients throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area including Aberdeen,  Abingdon, Bel Air, Bowleys Quarters, Carney, Catonsville, Cockeysville, Dundalk, Edgewood, Essex, Greenspring Valley, Hunt Valley, Lutherville, Owings Mills, Parkton,  Parkville, Perry Hall, Pikesville, Reisterstown, Rodger's Force, Rosedale, Sparks, Sparrows Point, Stoneleigh, Timonium, Towson, Westminster and White Marsh.