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Constructive Desertion

The end of marital COHABITATION brought about when one spouse, by his or her conduct, forces the other to leave home.

Constructive desertion takes place when a husband or wife intentionally forces the innocent spouse to leave the marital dwelling by acting in an offensive manner. The misconduct must be so extensive as to make marital relations insufferable.

Authority is divided on what constitutes justification for leaving the marital abode. The narrow view is that only conduct that would be grounds for DIVORCE is adequate. In application of this view, cruelty, nonsupport, ADULTERY, or other divorce grounds must be proved before the innocence of the fleeing spouse can be established. Stringent requirements limit the doctrine; in some states a mere unjustified refusal to have sexual relations with one's spouse for a certain length of time constitutes constructive desertion. Similarly, if one spouse communicates venereal disease to the mate, this might constitute constructive desertion. The prolonged nagging or drunkenness of a spouse is not ordinarily viewed as misconduct that would justify marital dissolution based upon constructive desertion.

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