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

Maryland Does Away With Limited Divorce, Establishes Grounds For Absolute Divorce


Prior to October 2023, Maryland permitted two types of divorce: limited and absolute. An absolute divorce permanently ends a marriage. It terminates property claims and permits the parties to remarry. A limited divorce, on the other hand, did not permanently end the marriage. It was akin to legal separation. The parties could negotiate matters such as child support and alimony. The parties could later file a claim for absolute divorce in court.

In addition, Maryland permitted two types of absolute divorce. Those are fault-based and no-fault divorces. The current law, which went into effect in 2023, only permits no-fault grounds for marriage. In this article, the Maryland divorce attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered will discuss the new rules and how they apply to Maryland divorces.

Grounds for absolute divorce in Maryland 

Under the previous version of the law, couples were able to pursue both no-fault and fault-based divorces. Fault-based divorces require a party to accuse the other party of causing the breakdown of the marriage. The old rules permitted a spouse to accuse the other party of adultery, desertion, criminal conviction, insanity, cruelty of treatment, or excessively vicious conduct. The new rules did away with fault-based grounds and fault-based divorces entirely. Today, Maryland couples can only pursue no-fault grounds for their divorces.

Today, there are only three grounds for absolute divorce in Maryland: 6-month separation, irreconcilable differences, or mutual consent.

  • 6-month separation – Under the old rules, a couple had to be separated for 12 months before the court would consider an absolute divorce. Under the new rules, a couple can live apart for 6 months with no interruption before filing an application for divorce. No longer are couples required to “live apart” in separate residences for that time period. A couple must only establish that they have “pursued separate lives” to qualify as living separate and apart.
  • Irreconcilable differences – The new statute added “irreconcilable differences” as a ground for divorce in Maryland. The statute does not provide an adequate definition of what constitutes irreconcilable differences. In addition, there is limited case law since the rule has only been in effect for less than a year. It is not necessary for both parties to agree that the differences between the spouses are irreconcilable. One spouse may assert that the differences are irreconcilable to pursue a divorce under this ground.
  • Mutual consent – Mutual consent remains a ground for absolute divorce in Maryland. To file for a divorce based on mutual consent, both parties must submit a written settlement agreement that resolves all issues related to marital estate, alimony, and the distribution of property. If the parties have children together, the agreement must resolve issues related to care, custody, access, and support of the children.

Talk to a Maryland Divorce Lawyer Today 

The Bel Air family attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered represent the interests of Maryland couples pursuing a divorce. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your next steps right away.

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