Constructive Desertion Law & Legal Definition


Constructive desertion in divorce law refers to a ground for divorce in some states, under which one spouse engages in misconduct so extensive as to make marital relations insufferable. No clear consensus exists on what justifies the claim on constructive desertion, but cruelty, nonsupport, adultery, or other divorce grounds must be proved before the innocence of the fleeing spouse can be established. Nagging or substance/alcohol abuse is usually not viewed as misconduct that would justify marital dissolution based upon constructive desertion.

Constructive desertion is basically defined as one person leaving the relationship-not necessarily the home. Some examples of marital misconduct that have been applied to constructive desertion include willful refusal of sex, without just cause and nonperformance of other marital duties as to practically destroy the home life. The denial of sex alone does not constitute desertion. The spouse also has to stop carrying out the mutual responsibilities of the marital relationship. Conduct that endangers a spouse's life, safety, health, and even self-respect. An isolated assault or two will not necessarily constitute cruelty unless the act was egregious. If the cruelty or intolerable conduct of the one spouse causes the other spouse to leave the home, the spouse remaining in the home could be considered to have deserted the relationship by his/her actions.