Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary


To intentionally and permanently give up, surrender, leave, desert, or relinquish all interest, obligations, or ownership in a house, apartment, or other property (such as a patent), a right of way, or a spouse or children. The word is often used when a tenant has left his or her rental unit and the property inside and does not intend to come back. State landlord-tenant laws typically regulate how the landlord may deal with abandoned property left behind by the tenant. To abandon a child or spouse means to have no contact and give no support for an extended period of time.