What Are the Grounds for Absolute Divorce?

Maryland divorce laws provide for limited and absolute divorce. A limited divorce is actually a legal separation; spouses are still legally married during this time. In contrast, when an absolute divorce is finalized, spouses are no longer legally married. To find out whether you can file for an absolute divorce, you can consult family lawyers serving Owings Mills.

Legal Separation

When spouses do not have any other grounds for an absolute divorce, a divorce lawyer can file for a limited divorce. The spouses must then live apart from each other for 12 consecutive months without cohabitation, unless the conditions from the paragraph below are present. When this time period ends, the spouses will have grounds for a no fault absolute divorce. It is not necessary for both spouses to consent to the divorce if the legal separation requirement has been fulfilled. However, if the spouses live together or have sexual relations even once during this time, the 12-month time period begins again.

File an Absolute Divorce Mutual Consent

Maryland divorce laws were recently updated to make it easier for some couples to file for absolute divorce without having to wait through a 12-month legal separation. Spouses may be eligible for an absolute divorce based on the grounds of mutual consent if they do not share any minor children and the parties submit a written settlement agreement to the court signed by both parties. The settlement agreement must resolve all divorce issues such as property distribution. Additionally, both parties must appear in court at the divorce hearing. Before the divorce is finalized, either party may choose to file a motion to set aside the settlement agreement, in which case the divorce proceeding will be halted.

Fault-Based Grounds

In addition to the grounds for a no fault absolute divorce, spouses in Maryland may choose to file for divorce based on wrongdoing. For example, a spouse may present evidence to prove that the other spouse has committed adultery, in which case the court can grant the divorce immediately. Or, a spouse may demonstrate that the other spouse has deserted the family home, engaged in cruel treatment, was convicted of a crime, or was confined to a mental institution.