How Does Abandonment Affect Divorce in North Carolina?

Abandonment is an emotionally charged term that usually doesn't mean, legally, what most people assume. In NC abandonment is very rare, but here we will discuss what it is, or isn't, and how it could impact your divorce. As with all of our Q&A videos, a full transcript is located below:

"So abandonment in North Carolina isn't really a factor as much as people think. In North Carolina in order to get divorced you have to be separated for a year and a day, and obviously, the only way that that happens is somebody leaves the house.

So usually when somebody comes to me, and they are talking about abandonment, what they mean is the other side moved out, and they think that that means they get everything, or they get custody, that they get support, that they get all the assets; and that's not the case because when you want to divorce somebody you have to be separated, the courts and the legislature understand that. But abandonment in North Carolina, really means when somebody truly disappears for several years. You can't find them. They're not paying any sort of child support, and they've truly abandoned their kids. In that situation, it's very rare. It doesn't happen very often.

So when you're talking about a typical divorce case, the concept of abandonment isn't something that comes up as much as people might think. It's really not that important from a legal perspective, and that's important because when someone leaves you and moves out, it's emotionally taxing, and it has a significant toll on you as a person. But as far as your case, it generally doesn't matter as much.

Now, where they've moved to, that matters a lot more, right. If they've to a one bedroom apartment, and you have three kids, well, then obviously, they're not gonna be able to have over that custody because the kids don't have anywhere to go. So, those things like that, like the actual logistics of them moving out, can have a significant impact; but, abandonment, as most people know it, isn't really a factor as much as a lot of you might think.

In terms of actual abandonment, which is where somebody disappears and isn't paying child support, there's no real time limit on that. The courts have ruled abandonment in cases where someone's disappeared for more than two years, sometimes more than three years. But again, those are very rare circumstances and it's very rare when that matters even, but usually it comes up in custody proceedings after someone's gone for so long.”

For more information about where you need to file your child custody complaint check out our article here.