Getting a divorce can be a painful and lengthy process even when both parties are amicable. In the state of Maryland, certain laws regulate the specific parameters of any given divorce. To obtain a real (or absolute) divorce in the shortest amount of time possible, lawyers and their clients must adhere to such laws. Here are six common Maryland divorce questions to know if you are considering filing for divorce in the state:
1. Does the state require a waiting period? – To obtain a real divorce, a couple must be legally separated (which means not having sexual relations and not living in the same residence) for one year. There are exceptions to the waiting period if the divorce is based on adultery or cruelty. The mandatory waiting period doesn’t mean you shouldn’t file right away; since the courts are so backed up, many Maryland couples file for a "limited divorce" which essentially puts them in line to get a court a date and offers temporary support until a real divorce is granted.
2. What are the legal grounds for divorce in Maryland? – Common "fault" grounds in the state include adultery, constructive desertion, desertion, cruelty excessively vicious conduct.
3. Does the state recognize "no-fault" divorces? – In Maryland, there are two types of no-fault divorces that are recognized by the state. The first occurs after one year of mutual voluntary separation with no hopes of reconciliation. The second occurs after two years of separation under any circumstance (such as an abandoned spouse).
4. Is irreconcilable differences grounds for divorce in Maryland? – In Maryland family law, the term "irreconcilable differences" is not recognized as grounds for divorce. However, behavior that falls under that term is often categorized under one of the legal grounds of divorce in the state (such as desertion or adultery).
5. How does the state define adultery? – As defined by state law, adultery means voluntary sexual intercourse took place between a married person and a partner other than their spouse. Same-gender sexual relations do not fall under adultery.
6. What type of behavior constitutes desertion? – Desertion (or abandonment) occurs when a spouse leaves permanently, effectively ending cohabitation with the intent to end the marriage.