Maryland will become a no-fault grounds state for filing for divorce on October 1, 2023. Maryland will be adding irreconcilable differences and six (6) month separation to its rule books while also retaining the ground of mutual consent. This eliminates all fault grounds for divorce in Maryland.
What does this mean? Well, back in the day, pre-October 1, 2023, one could file for divorce based on a fault ground like adultery, desertion, conviction of a felony, insanity, cruelty, or excessively vicious conduct. In the past, to obtain an absolute divorce, parties had to live separate and apart before they could even file for divorce. The change permits the court to grant an absolute divorce based on the grounds of a six-month separation for those living separately or together. This is in line with the law in many other states. Grounds for divorce that had to be proven in the past can still be considered when determining issues of custody and/or the division of marital assets.
In the past, many residents of Maryland could not live separately from their spouses for the requested 12-month separation period due to limited finances. That is no longer a necessary requirement. This will certainly assist low-income families that could not afford to maintain two separate households while waiting to divide their marital assets. And folks no longer have to allege that the other spouse has been cruel or has committed adultery to get divorced.
Beginning October 1, 2023, a Marylander may file for divorce on one of the following grounds: 1) irreconcilable difference, which has not been defined under the new statute, but one can presume it will include any reason the parties want to obtain a divorce; 2) mutual consent, which means the parties have reached and submitted to the court an agreement resolving all issues related to the marriage; or 3) six- month separation, which can be during the period with the parties residing in the same home.
Maryland is also completely eliminating the ability to file for a limited divorce, where the parties may live apart but remain legally married on October 1, 2023.
This change in the law will make it easier for Marylanders to obtain a divorce.
ABOUT SANDRA A. BROOKS
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As a family law attorney, Sandra (Sandy) Brooks’ practice focuses on a wide range of aspects in regards to family law. She dedicates her time to assisting clients in domestic law matters including divorce, child custody and visitation, family mediation, spousal and child support, property division, and division of retirement benefits. Other matters that fall under her jurisdiction as a family law attorney include tax consequences of divorce, mediation, prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, negotiating and drafting of separation agreements, domestic litigation, and post-judgment proceedings.