Divorce in Maryland
How can I obtain a divorce in the State of Maryland?
First, you need to determine whether you are eligible for a divorce. Do you have grounds for a divorce? The most common way to obtain a divorce is through Maryland’s No Fault Ground.
What are the requirements to obtain a no fault divorce?
If you have children together, you must be separated without cohabitation for 12 months without interruption prior to filing a Complaint for Absolute Divorce with the Court. What does this mean? It means you cannot live under the same roof, even for one night, and you must not engage in sexual relations with your spouse during the separation period.
If you do not have children together but there is not mutual consent to the divorce, then you must be separated for 12 months.
What if we don’t have children and we both agree to the divorce?
Parties may file for divorce on the grounds of Mutual Consent if they do not have minor children in common, they submit a written settlement agreement to the Court, signed by both parties that resolves all issues of support and property; neither party seeks to set aside the written settlement agreement before the divorce hearing; and both parties appear at the divorce hearing. The ground of Mutual Consent does not require a separation period.
What if I suspect my spouse has been unfaithful?
If your spouse has committed adultery and you can prove that adultery occurred, than you can file for divorce based on the ground of Adultery. This ground does not require a separation period; however you cannot condone (forgive) the adultery by having sexual relations with your spouse if you are aware that your spouse is committing adultery. What are the requirements to prove adultery? Most adultery cases are proven by circumstantial evidence. This means you must have testimony to establish opportunity and inclination. In some cases, this involves hiring a private investigator; however another 3rd party witness could provide the testimony.
Can I file for divorce if my spouse left me and I want to proceed on fault grounds?
You may file for divorce on the ground of Desertion if you have lived separate and apart for 12 months without interruption before filing a Complaint for Absolute Divorce so long as the desertion is deliberate and final and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
What if I was forced to leave the marital home, can I file for Divorce?
If your spouse forces you to leave the marital home it is called Constructive Desertion. The same requirements for Desertion apply to Constructive Desertion.
Are there other grounds for Divorce?
Yes, there are other grounds for divorce that may be applicable in your particular case. Go to http://law.justia.com/codes/maryland/2010/family-law/title-7/7-103/ for more information on the grounds for divorce in Maryland, or search for Md. Family Law Code Ann 7-103.
What if I have been separated for less than a year, can I obtain a legal separation?
Maryland does not recognize a legal separation. However, under certain circumstances you can file for a limited divorce.
What is a limited divorce?
A limited divorce allows parties who do not have grounds for an absolute divorce to obtain relief from the Court. The grounds for a Court to grant a limited divorce are as follows:
- Cruelty of treatment of the complaining party or of a minor child of the complaining party;
- Excessively vicious conduct of the complaining party or to a minor child of the complaining party;
- Desertion; or
- Voluntary separation, if the parties are living separate and apart without cohabitation and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
If I have grounds for filing a limited divorce, what relief can the Court order?
Filing for a limited divorce allows the Court to determine child support, custody, alimony, use and possession of the marital home and personal property on a temporary basis. If you are granted a limited divorce, the Court cannot equitably divide personal property nor can it order the sale of jointly owned property. A person who has been granted a limited divorce is still married, thus, you cannot remarry until you have been granted an absolute divorce.
What if I do not want or cannot request a limited divorce but I need the Court to address child support, visitation, and/or custody issues?
A complaint for child support, custody, and/or visitation can be filed with the Court without a request for divorce. (See child support, custody, visitation)