Abandonment Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Abandonment?

n. in broad legal terms it stands for relinquishment of an interest, claim, privilege or possession. Several different contexts are covered by this term with variable meanings, like plaintiff’s discontinuance of proceedings (in cases of abandonment of an legal action), surrender of a ship or goods to the insurer (in cases of marine insurance), release of material by a copyright holder into the public domain (in cases of copyrights), desertation of a post or place without being on leave by a soldier (in military practices), abandoning spouse or children (in family related cases). Abandonment of public property might cause some confusion regarding ownership. Some laws provide a clause for de facto ownership of government over all abandoned public resources.

History and Meaning of Abandonment

Abandonment can be defined as relinquishment or surrender of an interest, claim, privilege or possession. The term has a wide range of legal meanings across various contexts. Abandonment occurs when one party stops fulfilling their side of an agreement or when they relinquish their right to property. For instance, a person who discontinues a legal action against someone else abandons the legal action. Similarly, a copyright holder who voluntarily releases their material to the public domain has also abandoned ownership.

Examples of Abandonment

  1. In family law, abandonment refers to a situation in which a parent, spouse or guardian has deserted the family and fails to provide support and care for a period of time.
  2. In tort law, abandonment refers to the act of leaving an injured person without providing medical assistance.
  3. In property law, abandonment means vacating a property with no intention of returning, resulting in the forfeiture of ownership rights.
  4. In contract law, abandonment occurs when a party to the agreement fails to fulfill their obligations according to the terms of the contract.
  5. In marine insurance, the abandoning of a ship occurs when its owner surrenders the vessel to the insurer in exchange for compensation for total loss of the ship.

Legal Terms Similar to Abandonment

  1. Surrender - This term refers to the voluntary abdication of a claim, possession or privilege.
  2. Forfeiture - This is the loss of property or rights by the owner due to misconduct or failure to fulfill obligations.
  3. Renunciation - This is a formal declaration that one is giving up or disclaiming a right or claim.