Abandon Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Abandon, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Abandon?

v. to desolate or forsake. It denotes giving up of one’s legal authority over something by free will, like giving away a claim to property. It is used in multiple contexts, for example 1.) in property disputes it means to leave behind one’s legally owned movable or immovable property for a long period. 2.) it may be in the context of a man or a woman leaving his/her child after birth, or spouse while still being in marriage. 3.) when it comes to legal rights abandoning stands for relinqueshing of right(s) granted by the law of the land (mostly constitution), say in cases of national emergency.

History and Meaning of Abandon

The term "abandon" is an English word that dates back to the late 14th century. It comes from the Old French word "abandoner" which means "surrender" or "give up". Abandonment refers to the act of intentionally leaving something behind, especially something that one has a legal right to control. This term can be used in property disputes, family law cases, and all sorts of legal contexts where the relinquishment of legal authority is relevant.

Examples of Abandon

  1. Property Law: A landlord who leaves a property and doesn't pay rent or response to tenant needs for a certain period can be accused of abandonment.
  2. Family Law: Giving up or omitting to pay child support or parental obligations can be seen as abandonment by the non-custodial parent.
  3. Private Law: Abandoning a claim to any right by choice leaving only the main claim behind, can create legal conflicts and void that particular claim.
  4. International Law: When a country surrenders or leaves a territory or international responsibility owing to any reason, it can be seen as abandonment of jurisdiction.
  5. Animal Law: Abandoning a pet or animal in a public space can be considered animal cruelty, as the animal is likely to starve, suffer, endure or escape certain misfortunes.

Legal Terms Similar to Abandon

  1. Surrender: Similar to abandonment, it refers to the relinquish of an interest, claim, or privilege. It can also be used in the context of surrendering oneself to the authorities.
  2. Waiver: An intentional or voluntary relinquishing of a right or conduct that can lead to the impairment of a right. It can be seen as abandonment arising out of personal preference.
  3. Forfeiture: The loss or relinquishing of a right or property by failure to fulfill obligations or by instantiative act, as penalty. It can also refer to the failure to pay outstanding debts leading to seizure of property.