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Schlaich & Thompson Chartered Bel Air Family, Divorce & Criminal Lawyer

Grounds For Divorce Updated Back In 2023


The Maryland legislature made major changes to family law back in 2023 doing away with limited divorce and updating the grounds for filing a divorce. Prior to October of 2023, Maryland law permitted two types of divorce: limited and absolute. As the name suggests, an absolute divorce was a permanent severing of all legal ties between the couple. A limited divorce, on the other hand, allowed a spouse who did not satisfy the grounds for absolute divorce and could not reach an agreement with their spouse to ask the court for temporary relief related to child custody, child support, alimony, and the use of real or personal property. Limited divorce did not end the marriage.

The new law which became effective in October of 2023 eliminates the concept of limited divorce and changes the grounds for an absolute divorce. Beginning in October, there will only be three grounds for absolute divorce: 6 month separation, irreconcilable differences, or mutual consent.

6-month separation 

Under the old law, separation was the basis for an absolute divorce when the parties had lived separately from one another without cohabitating for 12 months without interruption before filing the application for divorce. Separation will remain grounds for an absolute divorce moving forward. However, there are some major changes. First, the required period of separation is reduced from 12 months to 6 months. In addition, the language “without cohabitation” was removed from the separation ground in the new version of the law. The new statute also adds clarification regarding what qualifies as separation. Under the new law, a couple that has “pursued separate lives” for a period of 6 months would qualify as living separately and apart.

Irreconcilable differences 

Under the new law, irreconcilable differences are a new ground for an absolute divorce. The statute does not provide a definition for what qualifies as irreconcilable differences. As of now, there is no case law providing clarity on the matter either. The courts will eventually have their say, but since the new law has only been in effect for a couple of months, there is a dearth of interpretation on the matter. In other states, irreconcilable differences are defined as problems between the spouses that cannot be repaired. Examples could include differences of opinion on politics or religion or general animosity between the spouses.

Mutual consent 

Mutual consent will remain grounds for divorce under the new law. To file for an absolute divorce based on mutual consent, the parties are required to submit a written settlement agreement executed by both parties that resolves all issues related to the divorce. This includes issues related to the marital estate, alimony, and the distribution of property. If the parties have children together, the settlement agreement must also resolve issues related to custody and visitation as well as child support.

Talk to a Maryland Divorce Lawyer Today 

If you and your spouse are ready to divorce, call the Bel Air family law attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson Chartered to discuss the matter with a seasoned professional.

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