What is constructive desertion?

Constructive desertion happens when one partner causes the other partner to leave the marital home through misconduct. If one partner is forced to leave the home because the other’s misconduct, he or she has been constructively deserted. In this regime, the conduct of one spouse makes it impossible for the other to stay in the marriage.

Physical or mental cruelty to the spouse can constitute constructive desertion. Moreover, refusing sexual intercourse can often be held to be constructive desertion. In some cases, requiring a spouse to live with intrusive or abusive in-laws was held to be constructive desertion, as was refusing to relocate to a new town or state.

In the case of sexual relations, constructive abandonment means a spouse leaves the marriage in spirit by refusal to have sexual relations.

Constructive abandonment is a form of abandonment used as a grounds for divorce, and it may also be considered a form of cruel and inhumane treatment.

In sexual desertion, which is considered a fault ground, the party charging it must prove abandonment, generally for one year, during which the spouses may share the same roof (but presumably not the same bed).

Some years ago, a newspaper story described the marriage of a aging movie star and her husband. Though still legally married, he lived in one wing of their enormous house; she lived in the other, and they both entertained their separate and individual circles of friends in the common rooms on a reservation basis. This is probably a creative example of desertion, sexual and physical as well as by consent.

Without a doubt, constructive abandonment could be the grounds for divorce in many marriages where it is not used for obvious reasons. As grounds for fault divorce, sexual desertion means laying bare very personal details of two private lives.