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Desert means to intentionally abandon a person or thing. Some common uses of the term desert in a legal sense include:

  • Cases such as this one from New Jersey explain that the term “desert” in the context of marriage and child support, usually has a broader meaning which extends to “a willful failure to provide food, or other basic necessities of life over and above mere shelter, to parties living in the same household.” 
  • The term “desert” in the context of child endangerment laws, usually requires a showing that the defendant had no intention to return for the child. 

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]