Maryland Legislature Tosses Old Maryland’s Divorce Laws
Written by: Stuart Grozbean & Jaime A. Wright
As of October 1, 2023, the antiquated divorce laws in Maryland are out and new, simpler grounds for divorce are in.
The new legislation does away with the concept of a “limited divorce,” which only acted as a placeholder until after a 12-month separation waiting period has occurred, as well as the following grounds for divorce:
- 12-month separation
- The cruelty of treatment or excessively vicious conduct toward a spouse and/or child
- Criminal convictions lead to prison time for one of the parties.
The surviving grounds for divorce will be:
- 6-month separation
- Irreconcilable differences
- Mutual Consent
WHAT THE NEW LAW MEANS FOR YOU:
To prove a 6-month separation, the parties should live separately and apart for six months without interruption before filing for divorce. If one of the parties has moved out, it is much easier to prove separation, and that they have moved on with their separate lives. ***However, you can still live in the same home to get a divorce but will need to prove that you are living completely separate lives. Examples include sleeping in separate bedrooms, and the separation of finances.
HOW THE NEW LAW AFFECTS YOUR RIGHTS:
Maryland is an equitable distribution state; therefore, the reasons for divorce remain relevant, just not as grounds for the actual divorce. For instance, a litigant can still argue adultery, cruelty, disability, and length of marriage to argue a person needs alimony or is entitled to a greater portion of the assets accrued during the marriage.
Because the new law streamlines divorce litigation, divorces will be sought and granted expeditiously and with relative ease. While this is a welcome change in many respects, it will mean that a non-moving spouse who is covered on the other’s health insurance policy is at risk of losing their coverage quickly, regardless of whether they want the divorce or not.
** REMEMBER, THIS IS A NEW LAW, AND STATUTORY INTERPRETATION IS SUBJECT TO JUDICIAL DETERMINATION.
The new statute does not change the concept of divorce by Mutual Consent, in which all that is required is a written agreement and Maryland residency of six months.
We understand, in most cases, you married out of love, and you now leave with a heavy heart. Our Maryland divorce lawyers at Belli, Weil, Grozbean, and Wright, P.C. are compassionate and proven attorneys who know how to interpret the law and be your advocate whether trying to amicably settle your case or trying the matters before the Court.
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