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Is there more than one type of desertion?

Virginia residents know that some of the most common grounds for divorce include adultery, intolerable cruelty and irreconcilable differences. However, another reason for filing for divorce can be desertion. But, what exactly is desertion and is there more than one kind of desertion that can be used as a basis for divorce in Virginia?

There are two types of desertion that are recognized in Virginia; active desertion and constructive desertion. However, for a spouse to claim desertion in their divorce papers, there are two components that must be present. The first is that there must be a willful desire on the part of one spouse to live apart from the other. The other factor is the actual cutting off of the marital relationship. To use it as a reason for divorce, the desertion must have continued for at least one continuous year, the act of desertion must have been willful and there must be absolutely no chance that the spouses will get back together.

Actual desertion is the first kind of desertion recognized by Virginia courts. Actual desertion means that one of the spouses has collected all of their belongings and moved out of the home they established with their significant other. They must have left of their own accord and are not expected to return.

Constructive desertion is when one spouse must leave the marital home because of the behavior of the other spouse. If the behavior of one spouse is so cruel, then the other spouse can leave and still file for divorce on the grounds of constructive desertion. This means that one spouse has left the relationship but not necessarily the home.

It's important to remember that desertion and abandonment mean basically the same thing. However, any Virginia resident who believes that they were abandoned may want to speak with a divorce attorney in order to determine if they can use desertion as grounds for a divorce.

Source:, "Virginia divorce requirements," Accessed Feb. 28, 2016

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