The divorce process was frustrating for most Maryland couples not just because of the emotional strain, but also because of the state’s requirements to get them done. Prior to October, divorcees in Maryland had to live apart for at least 12 months and both had to show up for the final hearing. It was long and tedious, as these spouses just want to move on with their lives and sign the papers as soon as they can. This was even harder for military couples given the varying nature of their living conditions.
Now that October 1 has passed, two new laws have come into place that makes the process significantly easier and quicker for separating couples in Maryland. If you and your spouse are planning to divorce in the near future, you should know about these new bills so you can implement them in your preparations.
The new laws
Senate Bill 120 will allow couples with minor children to file for absolute divorce after filling out a marital separation agreement. This written document tries to clear up any issues with child custody, care, and access that both spouses have. It also clarifies that the agreement should be in the child’s best interest in order to properly satisfy the court.
Senate Bill 96 means the state will no longer require both spouses to appear at the absolute divorce hearing if the divorce was on mutual grounds. Most of the times, they will grant it as long as they receive a written settlement by both parties that clears up any alimony or property distribution issues. They may combine that settlement agreement with the decree and could modify it based on statutory provisions.
What does it mean?
Thanks to these new laws, couples looking to divorce on these grounds will no longer need to wait for 12 months with legal separation before they can finalize the separation and do not have to be present at the final divorce hearing. This is especially beneficial towards military spouses because those living with a service member will no longer have to remain in the state until they finalize their absolute divorce. Additionally, service members no longer have to worry about being at the hearing in case they get deployed elsewhere around that time. These elements made the process much more unbearable before.
Without these restrictions, military couples in Maryland can move on with their lives quicker, benefiting them both emotionally and financially. If your divorce plans have drastically changed because of these new laws, reach out to a local family law attorney so they can help make your plan quicker and less painful.