Can I sue my Spouse for Abandonment?

Many clients tell us they want to sue their spouse for abandonment after his or her spouse has left without any justification. Being left with a mounting pile bills and no financial help can be extremely stressful and upsetting. However, in North Carolina, there is no cause of action for abandonment.

Despite this, however, abandonment may come into play when you ask for alimony. You must prove three factors: 1) one spouse ended the cohabitation without justification, 2) without the other spouse’s consent, and 3) without renewing cohabitation. Each of these elements must be proved before abandonment can even be considered.

However, abandonment is only one factor the judge may consider in determining alimony. North Carolina General Statute 50-16.3A states the courts “…shall consider all relevant factors, including marital misconduct of either of the spouses…” Marital misconduct does include “…abandonment of either spouse.” (N.C.G.S. 50-16.1A(3)(b)) It is important to note abandonment is only one of all relevant factors for the judge to consider.

Thus, in North Carolina, you may not simply sue your spouse for abandonment. While abandonment can play a role in the amount and duration of alimony, it is only one of many factors which will be considered by the judge. If your spouse has left you and you need to talk to an attorney further regarding divorce, alimony, and property distribution, please contact us at (252) 515-1051 or through our website, and we will be happy to speak with you.