You’ve Decided to Separate – Now What?

by: Catherine McQueen, Principal In Maryland, you don’t need to file a document with the court to separate.  You don’t even need to change your Facebook status to “It’s Complicated”.  “Separated” is not a legal status in Maryland; you are still married.  Remaining separated for a year, however, provides a ground for an absolute divorce. How do you separate?  In general, one person has to move out.  In most cases, you must reside under different roofs, and you cannot engage in sexual relations with your spouse during the separation.   “Just one time for old time’s sake” can restart the clock for the one-year separation requirement for an absolute divorce. Once you’ve been separated for a year, a court can enter a judgment of absolute divorce.  This does not happen automatically, though; you must file a complaint for divorce and follow the proper legal procedures. Common sense tips to consider if you’re separating: 1.   Cancel joint credit cards and open up an account in your sole name, if you do not have one yet.  This will help you establish your own credit, if you haven’t done so in the past. 2. Contact each of the 3 big credit agencies, Transwestern, Equifax, and Experian, and obtain your credit report.  You are entitled to a free report each year. 3. Open your own bank account and consider whether you should have your paycheck deposited in this separate account.  It is advisable to consult with an attorney regarding this decision. 4. Make sure you have possession of your own copies of any important documents, pictures, or videos. 5. If you have children, discuss how you will present the separation to the children.  Consider consulting with a therapist or other professional to discuss how best to do this, taking into account your children’s ages and any other pertinent factors. 6. Discuss with your spouse how you will pay joint expenses, or the expenses for your children, during the separation. 7. Consider consulting with an experienced family law attorney.

Please note the above material discussed is intended to provide only general information.  Do not, under any circumstances, solely rely on this information as legal advice. Legal matters are often complicated.  For assistance with your specific legal problem or inquiry please contact Catherine McQueen directly. Catherine McQueen is principal in the firm’s Washington office.  Ms. McQueen has a broad foundation of experience in a wide array of complex civil litigation and now focuses her practice on family law issues, including divorce, custody and visitation, child support, adoption, and guardianships. She can be reached at 240.507.1718 or