Comparing Limited & Absolute Divorces under Maryland Family Law
Divorce is not something that most married couples expect to go through. But the simple truth is that many married couples will end up going through this process, in Maryland and in many other places. Accordingly, Maryland law provides specific guidelines for the process of filing for divorce and the reasons for which the state courts may grant a divorce.
More specifically, Maryland law provides for both limited and absolute divorces. A limited divorce is not necessarily permanent, providing the spouses with an opportunity to resolve their differences. On the other hand, absolute divorces are permanent. Once a Maryland court awards an absolute divorce, the marriage is over. And the spouses must handle various considerations, such as property division, alimony, and child support.
Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 7-102, the state courts may only grant a limited divorce for specific reasons. Under this section, limited divorces are available for the following reasons:
- Cruel treatment of one spouse or their child;
- Excessively vicious treatment of one one spouse or their child;
- Desertion, if one spouse abandons the other spouse; or
- Separation, if both spouses live apart without cohabitation.
Section 7-102 allows the Maryland courts to grant a limited divorce for a definite or indefinite period of time. And the state courts may revoke a limited divorce upon a mutual request from both spouses.
Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 7-103, the state courts may only grant an absolute divorce for specific reasons. Under this section, absolute divorces are available for the following reasons:
- Adultery, if one spouse has an extramarital sexual relationship;
- Desertion, if one spouse abandons the marriage for at least 12 months;
- Criminal conviction, if one spouse must serve at least three years in prison;
- Separation, if the spouses have lived apart without cohabitation for at least 12 months;
- Insanity, if one spouse has been confined in a mental institution for at least three years;
- Cruel treatment of one spouse or their child, if there is no reasonable hope of resolution;
- Excessively vicious treatment of one spouse or their child, if there is no reasonable hope of resolution; or
- Mutual consent, if the spouses agree in writing and satisfy certain considerations.
In order to grant an absolute divorce based on mutual consent, the Maryland courts must verify the existence of a written agreement that is mutually acceptable to both spouses. Furthermore, Section 7-103 requires this agreement to resolve any and all issues that relate to:
- Property division, including marital property and the family home;
- Alimony or other spousal support payments; and
- Child custody, care, and support.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal help with limited or absolute divorce in Maryland, it can be highly productive to contact a devoted family law attorney. The Bel Air divorce attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including limited and absolute divorce. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.