Written by attorney Keith N Schiszik

Grounds for Divorce in Maryland

Maryland is very conservative in the area of divorce law.

There are two types of divorce; a Limited Divorce (sort of a court-ordered legal separation) and an Absolute Divorce, which allows you to remarry.

Most people want an Absolute Divorce, although there are reasons to seek a Limited Divorce at the beginning of the process, such as getting custody and visitation, child support or alimony resolved without having to wait as long as required to get an Absolute Divorce. The Court may not divide property until the date of an Absolute Divorce. It can be very complicated, so discuss all options and details with an experienced family lawyer.

As of October, 1, 2011, the grounds that must be proven in order to obtain an Absolute Divorce include:

1) One year separation. (The law previously required proof that the separation was mutual and voluntary. Now a person only has to prove they have been apart, regardless of the circumstances of the separation)

2) one years after desertion or physical abuse by the other party;

3) adultery (which will allow an immediate divorce) by the other person;

4) "excessively vicious or excessively violent conduct" (also allows an immediate divorce, but it must be "excessive" - whatever that is).

5) There is also a ground if a person is in a mental institution or in prison for more than 3 years, but most people will make it easy on themselves and just go for a divorce under number 1, (see above)

Also, before Maryland can do anything, the Plaintiff (the person seeking the divorce) or the opposing party must have lived in Maryland for one year before anyone can even file, unless the grounds for the divorce occurred in Maryland. Residency must be proven before the divorce will be granted.

The first ground listed (1 year separation) is Maryland "no-fault" ground. The others are "fault" grounds, but the Courts often do not "punish" a party for being "at fault" unless there has been serious physical abuse or indiscriminate, multiple adulteries. But, each Judge within each County has different viewpoints on fault, which is why a family lawyer with experience in your jurisdiction can be a very important asset.

A divorce in which custody, visitation, property, or alimony are not resolved by agreement of the parties, will often take up to a year to get into court; by that I mean one year after the pleadings have been filed, which, except for adultery or excessively vicious conduct, can not be earlier than one year after the separation or desertion. So be prepared to be patient, and do not get engaged to anyone else!

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