What if you don’t get divorced and just move away?
The risks and dangers in just up and moving away from (abandoning) your spouse are manifold. Here are a couple that come to mind:
- If you disappear and your spouse files for divorce and you cannot be found to be served with a copy of 1) the summons and 2) complaint for divorce, you could have default judgment entered against you without your knowledge and without you having appeared in the action to defend yourself.
- you may lose most or all of the marital assets (even your premarital assets) by having them awarded to your spouse;
- you may be ordered to pay most or all of the marital debts and obligations; and
- you may be ordered to pay unfair amounts of child and/or spousal support
- You are still responsible to care for your spouse, which means (at least in the jurisdiction where I practice divorce and family law) that if your spouse incurs debts and obligations for what are known as “necessaries”:
Morrison v. Federico, 232 P.2d 374 (Utah 1951):
The statute making “expenses of the family” chargeable upon the property of both spouses and permitting them to be sued jointly and separately, places liability upon both parties only where expenses incurred are necessary for the family benefit including expenditures proper to support the family and necessary to promote the well-being of its members and does not include attorney’s fees for legal services performed in a contemplated divorce action where reconciliation occurs.
§ 30-2-9. Family expenses–Joint and several liability:
(1) The expenses of the family and the education of the children are chargeable upon the property of both spouses or of either of them separately, for which expenses they may be sued jointly or separately.
(2) For the expenses described in Subsection (1), where there is a written agreement signed by either spouse that allows for the recovery of agreed upon amounts, a creditor or an assignee or successor in interest of the creditor is entitled to recover the contractually allowed amounts against both spouses, jointly and severally.
(3) Subsection (2) applies to all contracts and agreements under this section entered into by either spouse during the time the parties are married and living together.
(4) For the purposes of this section, family expenses are considered expenses incurred that benefit and promote the family unit. Items purchased pursuant to a written contract or agreement during the marriage that do not relate to family expenses are not covered by this section.
(5) The provisions of Subsections (2) and (3) do not create a right to attorney’s fees or collection fees as to the nonsigning spouse for purchases of:
(a) food or clothing; or
(b) home improvements or repairs over $5,000.