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Maryland Divorce and One Year Separation

Does Maryland Still Require Parties to be Separated One Year Before They can get an Absolute Divorce?

For years in Maryland, absent specific circumstances such as Adultery or Domestic Violence which rose to the level of Cruelty of Treatment or Excessively Vicious Conduct, Courts in Maryland were not permitted to grant an Absolute Divorce until parties lived separate and apart for one year.

This changed effective October 1, 2015 when Maryland Family Law Code Section 7-103 was amended to add the ground for divorce of Mutual Consent. The ground of Mutual Consent permits parties who meet specific requirements to get divorced with no minimum separation period. That said, not all married couples are eligible to get divorced on the ground of Mutual Consent. To be eligible, parties must not have minor children together. This eliminates the eligibility of many people to get divorced without being separated for one year. Even when parties do not have minor children, Courts in Maryland will not grant an Absolute Divorce on the ground of Mutual Consent unless the parties have a written agreement, signed by both parties, which resolves all issues pertaining to alimony and the division of marital property.

Therefore, even when parties do not have minor children, absent a written agreement resolving all issues involving alimony and the division of marital property, the requirement of a one year separation still applies unless the parties enter into a written agreement during the divorce litigation.

At Alman & Alman, LLC, we frequently receive questions from a spouse about whether they must wait until they have been separated for one year before filing for divorce. There is no requirement that parties wait until they have been separated for one year before filing for divorce. Since the litigation process generally takes many months, we often recommend that parties file for divorce prior to being separated for one year. Under this scenario, the Court will not schedule the divorce hearing until the parties have been separated for one year.

Should you have any questions concerning divorce, custody, child support or any other area of law, feel free to contact the offices of Alman & Alman, LLC.