Grounds for Divorce in Maryland
These are the most common of grounds for absolute divorce in Maryland, which are stated in §7-103 of the Maryland Family Law Article.
What IS An Absolute Divorce?An "absolute divorce" effects a complete severance of the marital bond and entitles either of the parties, or both, to remarry. Unlike a limited divorce, an absolute divorce also severs the financial ties and ends the form of property ownership known as tenants by the entireties.
AdulteryAdultery involves a married person having sexual intercourse with somebody who is not their spouse. It is considered a crime against marriage and creates grounds for an immediate divorce, meaning if adultery is established there need not be any written agreement or waiting period.
In my experience, most people misunderstand the standard of proof for adultery. They think "written evidence" or a recording of the adulterous couple is necessary when, truth be told, that is not necessary. The standard of proof for adultery is by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning "more likely than not" or 50.1%. Compare that to "beyond a reasonable doubt which is more like 99%.
Establishing adultery requires the moving party to establish two things:
First, the predisposition of two people to commit the adulterous act. For example: seeing the adulterous couple holding hands in public; a valentines card; late night telephone calls, or text messages that are sexual in nature.
Second, establishing that the couple had the opportunity to commit adultery. This may be proved by showing the adulterous spouse had the person over for the night evidenced by a car on the driveway.
That being said, Judges are smart and are free to reject evidence of adultery that is completely circumstantial and simply does not pass the smell test. To determine whether there is sufficient evidence that yoru spouse has committed adultery, you should speak with a family law attorney.
If somebody tells you that adultery cannot occur after a married couple have separated, you should never believe a thing that person says about divorce ever again--write them off as ignorant. The truth is that adultery must occur (1) after the wedding and (2) before the court grants a Judgment of Absolute Divorce. If you and your spouse have been separated for decades, both of you can still commit adultery. How much it matters is another question altogether.
Mutual ConsentMutual Consent is the newest grounds for divorce in Maryland available as of October 1, 2015. Pursuant to Maryland Code, Family Law ?7-103(8), an absolute divorce may be obtained under the Mutual Consent statute provided that:
1. There are no child custody issues meaning no children under the age of eighteen.
2. There is a Marital Settlement agreement resolving alimony and the distribution of property with due regard to ?8-205 and 8-207 respectively.
3. Both parties must appear at the final divorce hearing.
One-Year SeparationOne-year separation exists when a couple has lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a full year without engaging in sexual relations. Under new Maryland law, evidence of a one-year separation need not be corroborated.