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Desertion, in military law, the abandonment by a soldier of his or her post without the intention of returning. Under the code of military justice, this is a much more serious offense than merely failing to return on time or being absent without leave (AWOL). In civil law, desertion is the act committed by a husband or wife who leaves the other and stays away for a certain statutory period, which in the United States varies from 6 months to 5 years. Desertion is grounds for divorce in many jurisdictions.

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21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Davis, Henry Gassaway to Diamond