In this article...

Watch Our Video
Kevin O'Flaherty

Abandonment in a marriage can evoke a whirlwind of emotions and leave the abandoned spouse feeling devastated and overwhelmed. Navigating the complex world of Indiana divorce abandonment laws is challenging, especially when abandonment comes into play. This blog post aims to shed light on the intricacies of Indiana divorce law as it pertains to abandonment and empower you with the information necessary to make informed decisions.

From understanding the different types of abandonment and their effects on the divorce process to exploring the impact of abandonment on child custody, support, and marital property division, this blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of the legal landscape in Indiana when it comes to divorce involving abandonment.

Understanding Abandonment in Indiana Divorce Law

A group of people sitting around a tableDescription automatically generated

In Indiana, divorce law classifies abandonment as either willful desertion or constructive abandonment. The emotional implications of abandonment in a divorce can include feelings of rage and distress for the individual affected. On the legal side, options may include filing for custody or spousal support, requesting temporary or emergency financial support, and engaging a lawyer in a no-fault divorce case.

The average timeline for a divorce process in Indiana with abandonment typically takes a minimum of 240 days. Criminal abandonment, characterized by a spouse abandoning their family without providing necessary support, may lead to criminal nonsupport charges and affect the custodial parent’s rights in a divorce. For the most up to date information on Indiana divorce law read our article, 2023 Indiana Divorce Law Updates.  

Willful Desertion vs. Constructive Abandonment

Willful desertion is defined as one spouse intentionally leaving the marriage. Conversely, constructive abandonment refers to a situation in which a spouse’s behavior necessitates the other to leave, potentially impacting child support arrangements. Both willful desertion and constructive abandonment can be considered no-fault grounds for divorce in Indiana.

In Indiana, willful desertion is a fault-based ground for divorce, while constructive abandonment is a no-fault ground for divorce. To file for a fault divorce based on abandonment in Indiana, one must file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court and provide evidence of abandonment, such as witness testimony or other documentation.

Grounds for Divorce: Abandonment and No-Fault

Indiana allows for both no-fault divorces and fault-based divorces. Abandonment is one of the possible grounds for a fault-based divorce in Indiana. The individual filing for divorce must have resided in Indiana for a minimum of six months and must file the petition with the Indiana courts. In cases where a state recognizes abandonment, no-fault divorces can be filed, wherein parties can attest that their marriage is no longer viable.

The utility of utilizing a fault ground for divorce is contingent upon your individual circumstances. If your spouse has abandoned you, it is advisable to seek counsel from a legal professional to identify your most suitable option.

In Indiana, divorce proceedings, additional evidence, and legal support may be necessary to establish grounds for abandonment, such as demonstrating the financial ability of the abandoning spouse or the other spouse.

The Divorce Process in Indiana with Abandonment

When abandonment is involved in an Indiana divorce, the process entails filing a petition for dissolution of marriage and declaring abandonment. The petitioner must have resided in Indiana for at least six months prior to the filing of the divorce papers. Abandonment is recognized as a fault ground for divorce in Indiana.

In addition to the residency requirement, establishing grounds for abandonment may require further evidence and legal support. This could include witness testimony, documentation, or other relevant evidence to prove the abandonment allegations.

The legal process for a divorce involving abandonment may be more complex than a no-fault divorce, but with the proper legal support and evidence, the court can make a fair decision that takes into account the unique circumstances of the case.

Impact of Abandonment on Child Custody and Support

Abandonment can influence child custody and child support decisions in a divorce, as judges consider the best interests of the children and the circumstances surrounding the abandonment. When determining parenting arrangements, judges assess a variety of factors, such as the parent’s fitness, responsibility for the children, and commitment to their welfare, ultimately deciding on the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent.

Parents are obligated to provide their minor children with the necessities of life, including food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Criminal nonsupport of children is typically classified as a misdemeanor for first offenses, but some states have deemed it a felony, and other states have specified conditions under which it is considered a felony (e.g., repeat offenses, leaving the state, or failure to support for a specific period of time).

In cases involving abandonment, the court will consider the best interests of the children and the circumstances of the abandonment when making decisions about child custody and support.

Consequences of Abandonment on Marital Property Division

A close-up of a person's handsDescription automatically generated

Abandonment may be considered when a judge is determining a fair division of marital property in Indiana. The “equitable division” rule in Indiana dictates that a judge will determine a fair distribution of a couple’s assets and liabilities. Abandonment may lead to a decreased likelihood of receiving an equitable share of the marital property or spousal support for the abandoning spouse.

The consequences of abandonment on marital property division are determined by the judge, who will take into account the unique circumstances of the case. The left-behind spouse may receive a more significant share of the couple’s assets as a result of the abandonment in order to achieve overall fairness.

It is essential for both parties to be aware of the potential consequences of abandonment on marital property division and to seek legal counsel to ensure their rights are protected during the divorce process, especially in cases of irretrievable breakdown.

Spousal Maintenance and Abandonment

Spousal maintenance, commonly referred to as alimony in Indiana, is awarded less frequently than in other states in the context of a divorce. Abandonment could be taken into consideration when determining alimony in Indiana, provided that it has had a detrimental effect on the financial situation of the remaining spouse.

In Indiana, spousal maintenance may be awarded for a maximum of three years from the date of the final decree. The court will consider the unique circumstances of the case, including the impact of abandonment when deciding whether to award spousal maintenance and for what duration.

Legal Assistance for Divorce Involving Abandonment

Seeking legal assistance from a family lawyer is crucial when dealing with a divorce involving abandonment to ensure the best possible outcome for all parties involved. In Indiana, there are several options for legal assistance in divorce cases involving abandonment. Indiana Legal Services is a nonprofit law firm that offers free civil legal assistance to eligible low-income residents. Civil legal aid organizations also provide free legal assistance to low and middle-income individuals with civil legal issues.

Furthermore, consulting with a divorce attorney who specializes in family law may be beneficial in order to guide you through the legal process. Navigating the complexities of Indiana law, especially when it comes to divorce involving abandonment, can be daunting, but with the right legal support, you can protect your rights and secure a favorable outcome.


In conclusion, understanding the different types of abandonment and their effects on the divorce process is crucial for navigating Indiana divorce law. Abandonment can impact child custody and support decisions, as well as marital property division and spousal maintenance, making it essential for individuals facing a divorce involving abandonment to seek legal assistance.

As you embark on this challenging journey, remember that you are not alone. With adequate legal support and knowledge, you can navigate the complexities of Indiana divorce law involving abandonment and secure a fair and just outcome for all parties involved.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered spousal abandonment in Indiana?

In Indiana, spousal abandonment occurs when one spouse deliberately severs all ties with their family without any intention of returning, including not fulfilling financial and support obligations.

This can be a difficult situation for the abandoned spouse, as they may be left without financial support or any other form of assistance. It is essential to understand the legal implications of spousal abandonment in Indiana, as well as the options available to the child.

How long does a parent have to be absent to be abandoned in Indiana?

In Indiana, abandonment must last for at least six months before a petition for adoption can be filed.

This means that the child must be without a parent or guardian for a period of time before the adoption process can begin.

Is abandonment grounds for divorce in Indiana?

Abandonment is not grounds for divorce in Indiana.

Other states like Florida also do not recognize abandonment as a fault ground for divorce.

What is the charge of abandonment in Indiana?

In Indiana, the charge of abandonment is a Class D felony and can become more severe if the child is injured or harmed as a result.

How can abandonment impact child custody and support decisions?

Abandonment is a factor considered when making decisions about child custody and support, as judges weigh the best interests of the children in their decision-making.

Judges must consider the impact of abandonment on the children, including the emotional and psychological effects. They must also consider the financial impact of abandonment, such as the loss of support from the absent parent.

The court will also consider the case.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

FREE Family Law & DivorceE-Book

Get my FREE E-Book

Similar Articles

Learn about Law