In Maryland, there are two types of divorce: Absolute Divorce and Limited Divorce. An absolute divorce permanently ends the marriage, terminates any property claims, and permits remarriage. A limited divorce does not end the marriage and does not permit remarriage. But it does provide for support and legalizes the separation. A limited divorce is Maryland’s form of legal separation.
When filing for an absolute divorce, you must have ground(s) or a basis for the judge to grant it and our Maryland absolute divorce lawyers can provide you with more infomation. There are seven (7) grounds in Maryland:
- One (1) year separation;
- Conviction of a felony or misdemeanor with incarceration;
- Cruelty; and
- Excessively Vicious Conduct.
The most common ground for divorce in Maryland is one (1) year separation. This is the only no fault ground for the divorce in Maryland. For this ground to apply, you must prove to the judge that you and your spouse have been living separate and apart without cohabitation for at least one year prior to you file for divorce.
Generally, the phrase “living separate and apart” has been very strictly interpreted by the Maryland Courts. For example, even if the parties have been living in separate bedrooms in the same house, this has still been interpreted by the Courts as not living separate and apart. Additionally, it is important to note that after separating, if the parties spend even one night together under the same roof, that starts the clock over.
Desertion is the unjustified separation of one spouse from another with the deliberate intention of ending the marriage. Desertion can be actual or constructive. Actual desertion is when one spouse physically moves out of the marital home or physically leaves the marriage. Constructive desertion is when one spouse’s actions and behavior makes it impossible to continue with the marriage and therefore, the party who leaves is justified in leaving the marriage. The deserter is the one whose actions made it impossible to continue with the marriage, not the one who leaves. With the ground of desertion, you and your spouse have to be separated for 1 year prior to filing for divorce.
To prove insanity as the ground for the absolute divorce, the party must show that their spouse has been confined to a mental institution or hospital for at least three (3) years prior to filing for divorce and the judge must hear testimony of at least two (2) physicians who are competent in psychiatry that the insanity is incurable and there is no hope of recovery.
In order to divorce on the ground that your spouse has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, the party must show that their spouse was convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in any state, was sentenced to at least three (3) years in prison, and has served at least twelve (12) months of that sentence prior to filing for divorce.
With the other three (3) grounds for an absolute divorce, adultery, cruelty of treatment and excessively vicious conduct, the parties do not have to be separated for one (1) year before filing for divorce.
If you can show that your spouse is committing adultery, the Court will grant a judgment of absolute divorce regardless how long you and your spouse have been living separate and apart. To prove adultery, you must show two things: 1) your spouse had the opportunity to cheat and 2) the disposition or inclination to cheat.
The other two grounds for divorce that do not require you and your spouse to be separated a year before filing are cruelty of treatment and excessively vicious conduct. These two grounds go together. They allow a person to file for divorce if they have suffered physical or mental harm at the hands of their spouse and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation. To prove these two (2) grounds, you must provide evidence to the judge that your spouse’s cruel treatment and/or vicious conduct endangers your life and health or the life and health of a minor child.
One last thing to keep in mind before filing for an absolute divorce in Maryland is the residency requirement. Prior to filing for divorce, one of the parties must have resided in the state of Maryland for at least one (1) year. The exception to this rule is if the grounds for divorce occurred in Maryland. This means if the reason you are seeking a divorce occurred in Maryland, than you do not have to have lived in Maryland for one year prior to filing.
Our Maryland absolute divorce lawyer understands that this is a very stressful time for you and your family. Whatever your specific circumstances are, our team will help you navigate through the legal system and will make this time as stress free as possible.