If you are in the state of Maryland and are facing a divorce, you should speak with an experienced divorce attorney who handles cases in your particular area. If you are in Rockville, Gaithersburg, Bethesda, Kensington, Olney, Potomac or any of the surrounding areas, you want to speak with an attorney who regularly represents parties in divorce cases in Montgomery County, Maryland.
How to get a divorce in Maryland?
One of the questions frequently asked in an initial consultation is, what are the grounds for divorce in Maryland? In a Maryland divorce case, it is possible to file for either a no-fault divorce case or a fault-based divorce case. It should be noted that in the District of Columbia, the legislature has eliminated fault-based divorce cases, but that option is still available in Maryland. However, it is far more common for parties to file for a no-fault divorce these days.
How to Obtain a No-fault Divorce in Maryland?
In Maryland, there are means by which a couple can obtain a no-fault divorce. This requires, pursuant to the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code, that the parties must live apart for one year prior to filing for a divorce. The parties must actually live in separate residences and not engage in sexual conduct with each other or otherwise act like a married couple for that entire year. If you do engage in marital relations with your spouse during that one year, the timer will reset to day one and you must wait another full year to file. It is important to note, that while you may have to wait a year to file for divorce, it may be necessary to file for child custody and/or child support much sooner and then file for divorce once you are eligible.
What is a Mutual Consent Divorce in Maryland?
More recently, Maryland lawmakers have added what is known as a “Mutual Consent Divorce” to the MD Code. Under this relatively new change to the law, the parties may be granted a divorce without the one year waiting period, but only if they are in agreement with all issues including child custody, child support, alimony, division of marital assets and allocation of marital debts. This is typically accomplished by having an experienced Maryland divorce attorney draft a marital settlement agreement (MSA) and obtaining your spouse’s signature on that document once an agreement has been reached.
What is a Fault-Based Divorce?
In Maryland, you can file a divorce based upon what are commonly referred to as fault grounds. You would file it generally speaking in the county in which you live. For example, if you wanted a divorce and lived in Bethesda or Rockville, you would file for divorce in Montgomery County.
Fault grounds are based upon the common law reasons one was allowed to file for divorce. Some of these include the following:
However, it should be noted that these fault grounds have definitions and requirements that have been shaped by both common law (case decisions) and by statutes created by the legislature and passed into law by the governor.
In the case of a criminal conviction as a grounds for divorce in Maryland, your spouse must have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor and have been sent to prison for a period of at least three years. There is also a requirement that your spouse must have served at least one year of that sentence before you file for divorce. It should be noted that in most divorce cases, even if there are sufficient fault grounds to file divorce on that basis, it is likely preferable to file on no-fault grounds. The reason for this is due to a national preference of divorce courts to handle cases on a no-fault basis.
If you need assistance with a divorce case or any other family law matter in the District of Columbia or Maryland, please contact the Gross Law Firm, LLC for a consultation.