Desertion Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Desertion?

n. The act of discarding. For instance, leaving one’s spouse without intending to return. When the deserter is the family breadwinner, it is expected that they will not return to support the family that he/she left. In an era of no-fault divorce and standardized child support rights, desertion if leally less significant. The deserter’s visitation rights, custody and other post-marital issues can be influenced by their actions.

History and Definition of Desertion

Desertion, in legal terms, refers to the act of leaving something or someone without intending to return, especially in situations of familial or spousal responsibility. Typically, desertion refers to a spouse leaving their partner without any intention of returning, which can have significant legal implications in terms of child custody and visitation rights. The term has been used in legal contexts for centuries, though its specific meaning and implications have evolved over time.

In the past, desertion was often viewed as a more serious offense, particularly when the deserter was the primary breadwinner of the family. However, with the rise of no-fault divorce and standardized child support rights, the legal significance of desertion has somewhat diminished. Nevertheless, the actions of the deserting party can still have implications for their post-marital rights and responsibilities.

Examples of Desertion

  1. John left his wife and children one day without explanation and was never heard from again.
  2. Mary claims that her husband deserted her after only six months of marriage, leaving her without any financial support.
  3. The court ruled that the father's failure to provide any financial support for his children constituted desertion, and he was ordered to pay child support.

Legal Terms Similar to Desertion

  1. Abandonment - the act of leaving or abandoning something or someone, often with no intention of returning or providing support
  2. Neglect - failure to provide necessary care or attention, often leading to harm or injury
  3. Alienation of Affection - a legal term used in some jurisdictions to describe the intentional breaking down of a marital relationship by a third party, typically resulting in one spouse "deserting" the other.