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Sometimes the person you planned to spend the rest of your life with in a happy marriage, isn't the person you thought they were. In this case, you might make the choice to leave your spouse without taking the required legal steps.

Or on the other side, you might wake up one day to find your spouse has left, and months pass of you not hearing from them and living apart.

In both of these situations, under family law definitions in the state of Missouri this is called: abandonment or desertion.

  • A scenario that may seem like it could be defined as abandonment or desertion, but does not qualify as such under Missouri Law would be:

A spouse talking to their partner and agreeing to one moving out of the family home in order to create a temporary or permanent separation. Then after a few months, one of the spouses retracting their acceptance of that arrangement.

Key qualifiers for abandonment/desertion claims are a spouse refusing to be "supportive", financially, or if an argument can be made the law does allow for language including, "other ways of support". 

The other main qualifier for spousal abandonment/desertion is if a spouse is completely unable to be reached, contacted, or again simply refusing to give any type of support, then in these situations a case for spousal/marital abandonment can absolutely be asserted.

Abandonment/Desertion is defined as:

  • Marital abandonment occurs when one spouse deliberately severs all ties with his or her family with no intention of returning. This includes no longer taking care of financial obligations and support without a good reason.
  • In the event a husband or wife exits the relationship, living arrangement, or union without consent of their spouse, the state qualifies this act as abandonment.
  • The state also defines abandonment, or desertion in a circumstance where the spouses/partners did not reach an agreement about an exit of a spouse from the union.
"In this case the spouse that has been abandoned or deserted, without good cause, and has been neglected by the spouse that deserted their marriage by refusing to provide/maintain the other spouse's, or spouse's children's lifestyles, prior to the spouses departure, the court, on the abandoned spouses petition, shall order and adjudge the proper support/maintenance be provided/paid to the abandoned spouse and the spouse's children, by that marriage, out of the spouse that left the marriages property, and for such time as the nature of the case and the circumstances of the parties shall require, and compel the person to give security for such maintenance, and from time to time make further orders touching the same as shall be just. As long as said maintenance is continued, the spouse who deserted the marriage, shall not be charged with the deserted spouse's debts, contracted after the judgment for such maintenance." (2009 Missouri Revised Statutes,Title XXX DOMESTIC RELATIONS, Chp. 452, 452.130.)

Abandonment/Desertion also applies to children, and can be grounds of parental rights being terminated.

Parental right termination should only be pursued if it is in the best interest of the child/children.

Such cases would include if the parent being pursued for termination of parental rights is a danger, threat, or at risk of neglecting/abusing the child/children in question.

It is important to remember that divorce is already hard on all parties involved, especially your child/children. Making it unnecessarily harder on the child/children by terminating a parental rights for your spouse/ex-spouse, should only be pursued if absolutely essential to the parties safety and physical/mental well-being.

With that being said;

"In Missouri if a parent left a child or children without financial support, or did not communicate with the other parent, and/or did not to visit the child/children for six months or more, the parent who has been caring for the child or children may file a petition requesting the absent parent have their parental rights be terminated."  § 211.447.4, RSMo Supp. 2005.


If you, or your family have been victims of spousal/parental abandonment or desertion, it is your right to be compensated for the emotional trauma, and financial hardships that have been inflicted upon your family.

Or if you believe your spouse/ex-spouse that has been gone/out of contact, for six months or more, exhibits behavior that could be harmful to your child/children, than protecting your child/children and pursuing terminating the other party's parental rights, is in the best interest of your family. 

At Higher Level Legal Law Firm, we empathize with you, and understand that these situations are incredibly challenging, and there are many choices to evaluate. Our team would be honored to help you protect you and your family's rights, and diligently fight for the legal goals you wish to pursue after being advised and analyzing all your options in your specific situation.

Call our office today, and let us offer our experience, expert insight, personalized legal approach, to help you through the challenges you and your family are facing.


Don't Hesitate To Contact Us Today

If you need assistance or have questions, please call us at (816) 331-9968 to schedule a consultation. We are here to help you through this process.