When couples had to establish one spouse's fault to obtain a divorce, they did so by proving grounds such as desertion or abandonment. California, like all U.S. states, eventually established a no-fault divorce system. The term abandonment now has a different legal significance.
Family courts traditionally recognized abandonment, when one spouse leaves the marriage for a certain period of time, as a ground for divorce. Each state had its own divorce laws defining the spousal acts qualifying as abandonment.
Current Family Code
California no longer recognizes abandonment as a ground for divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, or legal separation. The current Family Code provides only two available grounds for divorce under Sections 2310 to 2313: irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity. The Family Code does not mention abandonment as a specific ground for divorce.
Other Significance of Abandonment
Though abandonment is no longer a way to begin the California divorce process, the term still has meaning within the context of family law. According to the California Courts Self-Help Center, abandonment also refers to a parent's absence or lack of support for a child. Parental abandonment may affect a child custody or visitation dispute.