Divorce Law

Maryland Divorce Law

There are more options available in Maryland than just getting a divorce if your marriage is experiencing turbulence. A divorce can’t be so easily undone and it may not be what you and your partner need. There are so many legal details to consider about ending your marriage, as well. Learning about the various options and laws in Maryland could help save you and your partner from making a potentially harmful and lasting decision.

LawInfo’s Maryland Divorce Law articles can help relieve some of the stress of the process. You’ll learn about the state’s divorce prerequisites, how property is divided and many other divorce topics. Whether you need assistance in Silver Spring, Frederick or Baltimore, LawInfo can help connect you with a Maryland divorce attorney.

Maryland Limited vs. Absolute Divorces

There are two major types of divorces you can get in Maryland, each of which serves a different purpose. An absolute divorce is a standard dissolution of a marriage. A limited divorce, however, is not a complete dissolution.

A limited divorce is similar to a legal separation in other states. However, unlike legal separation, a limited divorce requires a court’s approval and may only be granted upon one of several fault grounds, including:

  • Actual desertion—when one party cruelly abandons or forces the other party from the marital home.
  • Constructive desertion—when one party’s misconduct forces the other out of the marital home.
  • Both parties are living separately and without cohabitation.
  • The respondent (the party against who a complaint is made) is cruel or “excessively” vicious toward the petitioner or their minor child.

The marriage remains intact in a limited divorce but the usual terms of divorce—such as alimony, property distribution and child custody—are still enforced during the couple’s separation.

Maryland Absolute Divorce Fault Grounds

Where a limited divorce in Maryland sets the minimum requirements for a legal separation, an absolute divorce sets specific and expanded requirements for a dissolution of a marriage. For example, to attain an absolute divorce on the grounds of continuous separation or desertion, Maryland law requires a specific amount of time to pass in each case among other requirements.

The grounds for an absolute divorce include:

  • Deliberate, final and irreconcilable desertion for 12 months or longer.
  • Separation for 12 months or longer.
  • The respondent is cruel or excessively vicious toward the petitioner or their minor child without a reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
  • Adultery
  • One party has been legally determined to be incurably insane and has been confined to an institution or hospital for three or more years prior to filing for divorce. At least one party must have been a Maryland resident for two years prior to filing.
  • One party has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in any U.S. court. They must have served a minimum of 12 months of a three-year or longer prison sentence prior to filing.

There is an optional “no-fault” absolute divorce ground available in which both parties mutually consent to a divorce and:

  • Neither party currently shares custody of minor children with the other,
  • Submit a signed, written agreement about alimony and marital property distribution,
  • Neither party pleads to set aside (or contest) the aforementioned agreement before the divorce hearing, and
  • Both parties attend the final divorce hearing in-person.