Examining the 8 Grounds for Absolute Divorce in Maryland
An absolute divorce in Maryland is permanent, final, and irreversible. Unlike limited divorces, absolute divorces cannot roll back. Correspondingly, there are only certain grounds — or legal reasons — for which a person may pursue an absolute divorce in Maryland. Unless a spouse can demonstrate one of the eight grounds below, the Maryland courts will not grant a request for an absolute divorce.
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 7-103 authorizes a married couple to file for absolute divorce based on adultery. Stated otherwise, if either spouse has sexual intercourse outside of their marriage, it can lead to an absolute divorce.
It is also possible to file for divorce on the basis of desertion under Section 7-103. This ground for absolute divorce is available if the:
- Desertion occurs for at least 12 continuous months;
- Desertion is intentional and permanent; and
- Spouses do not seem to appear able to resolve their differences.
- Criminal Conviction
Section 7-103 enables a married person to file for absolute divorce based on a criminal conviction. This ground for absolute divorce exists in cases of felony or misdemeanor convictions if the offender:
- Received a prison sentence of at least 36 months; and
- Served at least 12 months of that sentence already.
In certain situations, Section 7-103 allows couples to pursue a divorce based on separation. To qualify for this ground for absolute divorce, the married couple must live apart, without any cohabitation or marital relationship, for a minimum of 12 continuous months.
In specific cases of insanity, it is possible to pursue an absolute divorce under Section 7-103. This route is only available if:
- The insane spouse has already spent a minimum of 36 months in a mental facility or similar institution;
- At least two physicians declare that the insane spouse has permanent and incurable mental issues; and
- Either of the spouses has lived in Maryland for two years or more.
- Cruel Treatment
Cruel treatment can also be a valid ground for absolute divorce under Section 7-103. If such treatment occurs — and there is no reasonable expectation of conflict resolution — then it is possible to obtain an absolute divorce.
- Excessively Vicious Conduct
Excessively vicious conduct can also be a valid ground for absolute divorce under Section 7-103. If such conduct occurs — and there is no reasonable expectation of resolving the problem — then it is possible to obtain an absolute divorce.
- Mutual Consent
Finally, Section 7-103 empowers a married couple to file for absolute divorce based on mutual consent. In other words, a married couple can reach a mutual agreement to pursue an absolute divorce. Though in order to do so, a married couple must:
- Execute a marital separation agreement that addresses alimony, child support, and property division;
- Complete the child support guidelines worksheet required by Maryland law; and
- Refrain from challenging the marital separation agreement in court.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you need legal help with a Maryland divorce or other areas of family law, it can be decidedly productive to consult with a knowledgeable Bel Air divorce attorney. At Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered, we have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including divorce and related considerations. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.