Definition of Constructive Abandonment

Abandonment can be physical, or it can be sexual. The act of refusing to have sexual relations with a spouse for at least one year while the parties continue to live together is called constructive abandonment. The consensual withholding of sexual relations is not considered constructive abandonment. If the person filing for divorce is using constructive abandonment as a cause for divorce, the court will expect them to prove their spouse has unjustifiably refused a sexual relationship for at least one year, in spite of repeated requests to resume relations.

Courts generally will keep all court documents in a constructive abandonment case private, which means they are not viewed by the public unless someone requests to review them and is granted permission by the court. Constructive abandonment has been a common cause for divorce for decades, but it has become less necessary to prove constructive abandonment because all states are now no fault divorce states and spouses do not have to prove marital misconduct to get a divorce.

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