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What are the grounds for a fault divorce?

Residents in Maryland can file for either a no-fault divorce or a fault divorce. The former may require a separation period of a full year before the absolute dissolution of marriage is granted. However, if grounds for a fault divorce can be proven, you may be able to obtain the divorce faster in some cases. It may also help in the division of marital property or determining spousal support.

According to Maryland’s Department of Human Services, there are six grounds for a fault divorce that you may consider. You have the option of choosing more than one if necessary.

The first of these is adultery, which occurs when one party has sexual intercourse with someone other than the spouse. You may not be able to prove the act itself but you do not have to if you can prove opportunity and disposition, which could include actions such as hand holding or kissing. Divorces filed on the ground of adultery do not have a waiting period.

The next is desertion, which means one spouse abandoned the home without justification and has been absent for a continuous 12 months. You need to be able to prove that the leaving was not consensual or for a “constructive” reason such as a spouse leaving due to misconduct or abuse. You must also not have sexual relations during the 12-month period when claiming desertion.

The next two grounds are cruelty and excessively vicious conduct. These acts may be geared towards you or towards a child who is a minor. There is no waiting period for either of these two and you can file for divorce immediately.

The fifth ground is the conviction of a crime. If your spouse has a sentence of more than three years, you may qualify. You must wait until your spouse has served at least 12 months of his or her sentence before filing using criminal conviction as a ground.

The final ground for divorce is insanity. The person must have at least two physicians who can testify that the patient’s issues are “permanently incurable” and he or she must have spent three or more years in an institution or hospital. You can file on this ground after 12 months of a separation.

This post is for informative purposes only and should not be substituted for professional legal counsel.

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