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1 The failure by a husband or wife to cohabit with his or her spouse. Desertion usually takes the form of physically leaving the home, but this is not essential: there may be desertion although both parties live under the same roof, if all elements of a shared life (e.g. sexual intercourse, eating meals together) have ceased. Desertion must be a unilateral act carried out against the wishes of the other spouse, with the intention of bringing married life to an end (animus deserendi). If it is continuous for more than two years, it may be evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and entitle the deserted spouse to a decree of divorce. See also constructive desertion.

2 An offence under the Armed Forces Act 2006 committed by a member of the armed forces who leaves or fails to attend at his unit, ship, or place of duty without lawful authority. He must intend to remain permanently absent from duty or intend to avoid a period of active service.

Subjects: Law.

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