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How Maryland divorce law changed last fall

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2024 | Divorce

Laws related to divorce change more often than many people realize. Sometimes, it’s to keep up with changing attitudes, such as recognizing that women shouldn’t be presumed to have a greater parenting role after divorce or that permanent alimony shouldn’t be ordered except in specific circumstances. 

Sometimes, lawmakers update these laws to simplify things for those going through divorce. That’s basically what the changes enacted to Maryland’s law last fall did. Let’s take a brief look at the changes.

No more limited divorce

Maryland used to have two types of divorce: limited and absolute. What was known as limited divorce was actually legal separation, where a couple codified their separation and may have gotten adjacent agreements. Absolute divorce was (and still is) actual divorce, where the marriage is officially terminated.

Under the revised law, limited divorce no longer exists. A couple is considered separated for purposes of being able to get a divorce if they are living “separate lives.” This doesn’t have to involve anyone moving out of the house. However, a couple should agree on when they began these separate lives.

Even without limited divorce or legal separation, a couple can still get a marital settlement or separation agreement. This can address things like parenting time, support, property division and how expenses will be divided during this period. 

Grounds for divorce

Maryland’s grounds for divorce have been simplified. None involves any alleged wrongdoing or issue on the part of one spouse or the other. They are:

  • Mutual consent
  • Irreconcilable differences
  • 6-month separation

The last means that simply being separated (living separate lives) for 6 months is all that’s required for divorce. That’s down from the previous requirement of a 12-month separation. These rather non-descriptive grounds help couples divorce without publicly stating anything negative about each other.

It’s important for all separating and divorcing couples to understand the most current laws on the books. This is just one reason why having experienced legal guidance can help the process go more smoothly.


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