If you live in the state of Maryland and are looking for a divorce or have been served divorce papers by a spouse, it’s important to understand the type of divorce you might be facing and what legal grounds you have.
There are many different legal reasons for a couple to get a divorce. However, in order to use any of these reasons in the state of Maryland, the spouse who files for divorce must be an official resident currently living in the state. Maryland divorce laws fall under the jurisdiction of family law. Maryland offers two forms of divorce:
- Absolute divorce;
- Limited divorce.
Grounds for absolute divorce in Maryland allow parties to remarry other people. An absolute divorce absolutely dissolves the marriage. In order to get an absolute divorce, you must have proof or evidence of whatever it is you are accusing your spouse of doing. If, for example, your spouse has been in prison for a crime or is guilty of excessively vicious conduct, you must present proof to the court before a judge will grant your immediate divorce in Maryland.
Many people wonder about the divorce process and have lots of questions about what to expect. The answers to most divorce questions de...
If the grounds for divorce took place in the state of Maryland, you can file for divorce as long as you are currently living in the state. If the grounds for divorce happened in another state, one of the parties must have been a Maryland resident for at least six months prior to filing. For example, if a husband cheats on his wife regularly in the state of Virginia, either the husband or the wife must be a resident of the state of Maryland for a minimum of six months before either party can file for divorce in Maryland.
By comparison, a divorce in Maryland state that is categorized as “limited” means that the two spouses are still married but share responsibilities, such as child custody, child support, or alimony. In effect, a limited divorce is a form of voluntary separation by mutual consent when a spouse hasn’t necessarily committed excessively vicious conduct or adultery. This type of divorce is more like a settlement agreement while a couple is separated.
Now, if spouses want to file for divorce and legally part ways, Maryland law states that the divorce process starts by proving in court that there are “grounds” for the divorce based on a legal reason for the couple to be apart.
Grounds for an Absolute Divorce
The grounds for absolute divorce can include any of the following categories, some requiring more proof and others.
A divorcing couple can choose one of two main categories for an absolute divorce. The first is no-fault grounds. This means that no one is at fault. This option is only available after the couple undergoes a 12-month separation or limited divorce. With no-fault grounds, no spouse is blaming the other for any legal reason that the marriage must end. Some states use the term “irreconcilable differences,” which is equivalent to a Maryland absolute divorce with no-fault grounds. Consequently, this is sometimes referred to as a mutual consent absolute divorce.
The second main category of Maryland grounds for divorce includes fault grounds. This is when one spouse accuses a guilty spouse of being at fault for something that legally allows for immediate divorce in Maryland. The six most common fault grounds are described in the following sections.
If you commit adultery, the other party can file for an absolute divorce in Maryland using adultery as the fault-based grounds. However, to prove that one spouse commits adultery, the other spouse must prove that there was some sort of desire to do so or that there was an inclination. One spouse also must prove that there was an opportunity, meaning that the guilty spouse spent a lot of time alone with the person he or she is presumed to have cheated with. There is no waiting for the period with adultery if a spouse has sufficient evidence.
In the state of Maryland, however, if a cheating spouse admits that he or she cheated, this isn’t sufficient grounds for a divorce. A spouse who makes a mistake and cheats without any type of disposition—any type of inclination or desire to cheat ahead of time—isn’t sufficient for a divorce. Other grounds would be necessary if divorce is still desired. A divorce attorney or family attorney can help to determine what grounds are sufficient and what evidence is necessary to corroborate those grounds.
In the past, Maryland required corroboration of a testimony to support the party filing for divorce. This would mean that a spouse filing for divorce needed a third party to provide a testimony to corroborate his or her story. For example, if you accused your spouse of cheating or desertion, you would need a third party to confirm that the accusation was true. This, however, is no longer a legal requirement.
Desertion is another legal grounds for divorce in Maryland state and is one of the fault-based factors that can decide things like custody and alimony. Desertion is categorized as either actual or constructive. Constructive desertion can include situations when a deserting spouse doesn’t physically leave, but his or her actions caused the other party to have to leave home. This usually includes abuse or putting children in physical or mental harm. Actual desertion requires the divorcing spouse to prove all of the following:
- The deserting spouse has been gone for 12 uninterrupted months
- The deserting spouse wants to end the marriage
- There was no justification for deserting the family
- All cohabitation and sexual intercourse have ended
- The deserted spouse did not consent to be deserted
- There is no reasonable hope that the couple will make up
Excessively vicious conduct
Excessively vicious conduct is any behavior by one spouse that is abusive toward the other spouse, toward a child, or toward another person living in the home. In addition to physical abuse, this includes mental abuse, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse. If one spouse creates an unsafe living environment, the other spouse will have grounds for a divorce. This conduct can extend to taunting, controlling behaviors, threats, and domestic violence.
Conviction of a crime
If a spouse is convicted of a crime and given a sentence of three or more years in prison, the other spouse can file for divorce after he or she has served a minimum of 12 months.
If you can prove that your spouse is now insane and that it is permanent and incurable, you have grounds for a divorce in Maryland. The absolute divorce in Maryland requires that your spouse be confined to a mental institution usually for at least three years before you file for divorce. A testimony from a doctor confirming the spouse’s condition is also required.
How Long Does Divorce Take in Maryland?
The length of time divorce takes is based on the type of divorce filed for, namely a no-fault or fault divorce. If you file for a no-fault divorce, it can take just a few months to finalize because it is uncontested. If you file for a fault-based divorce, it can take up to 18 months on average because it will be contested. There is also a waiting period of 30 days after the judge signs the final decree, assuming there is no appeal.
Overall, there are many grounds or reasons for immediate divorce in Maryland, whether you are seeking an absolute or limited divorce. It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to finalize a divorce, depending on what documentation or evidence has to be presented and whether the other spouse contests the allegations against him or her. With the help of a qualified divorce lawyer, you can go over the specifics of your case and get an estimate of how long it might take and what evidence you might need to complete your divorce.