In the state of Maryland, legal separation is not recognized. However, if you and your spouse are living apart with the intention of getting divorced and are not involved sexually, that does constitute separation. Separation entails the involved parties to agree to live apart until the finalization of or the granting of a divorce. The couple who are separating, after negotiation between their lawyers on the couple’s behalf and interests, may arrive at an agreement regarding divorce issues such as asset and property division, alimony, child custody and support, and visitation schedules. All details of the agreements are drafted into a document.
The document detailing the divorce terms is referred to as a “separation agreement” or a “settlement”. It details the rights and responsibilities of the separating couple, which they will need to adhere to and follow during the divorce process. The agreement is a contract that has binding power and is enforceable or put into effect by a court system. An agreement between the parties put into effect or once executed cannot be modified in most cases. However, there is an exception pertaining to child custody and child support. The court remains in control regarding the need for modification or adjustments when the welfare of children is involved.
Before you file for a plea for divorce, you need to be certain that you pass or satisfy all the requirements for state residency. In the case that the grounds for divorce happened or occurred outside the state of Maryland, it is stipulated that one spouse from the divorcing couple must have lived at least one year in Maryland before the plea for divorce is filed. Anyone from the divorcing couple has the right to file for a divorce in Maryland. You may file for a divorce in the area where your spouse is employed or where they live.
What Are the Grounds for a Divorce?
In Maryland, there are two kinds of divorce. There is what we call a limited divorce and an absolute divorce. A divorce is called or regarded “limited” because it has certain rights and responsibilities of the parties. It does not mean that the divorce is permanent; rather, it serves more as legal separation. Absolute divorce stipulates the rights and responsibilities of the divorcing couple and provides for the terms regarding the division of assets and properties in the marital estate.
On the following grounds, a limited divorce is usually granted:
- Treatment that is deemed as cruelty towards a spouse or a child of minor age
- Conduct or behavior that is excessively disrespectful, violent, or vicious
- Abandonment or desertion
- Parties who are living separately and apart by their own will and accord (voluntary) without cohabitation and without any resolution, expectation, or decision to reconcile
An absolute divorce may be granted on the following grounds:
- Desertion with a duration of 12 months and beyond without interruption, which is deliberate and final and without any expectation or hope of a reconciliation
- Parties who are living separately and apart by their own will and accord (voluntary) without cohabitation for at least 12 months and without any expectation of or intention for a reconciliation
- Parties living separately and apart without cohabitation, continually (without interruption) for at least 2 years
- Cruel treatment of a spouse or a child of minor age of the complainant without any hope of or intention for a reconciliation
- Conduct or behavior that is excessively disrespectful, violent, or vicious toward a spouse or a child of minor age of the complainant without any hope of or intention for a reconciliation
- In the event of one party being convicted of a felony or a misdemeanour in any state of or in any court of the United States with the convicted party being sentenced to at least 3 years or to an indeterminate sentence in a penal or state institution and having served at least 12 years of the whole sentence
- In the event of insanity in which the spouse has been confined in an institution for at least 3 years before a divorce is filed with proof from two psychiatrists of the committed spouse’s incurable insanity and with one of the parties being a resident of the state of Maryland for at least 2 years before the plea for divorce has been filed
Before filing for a divorce, all requirements for each ground should be satisfied or met. Other additional requirements are also valid, such as residency in the state of Maryland. For certainty of fulfillment and meeting of requirements, it would be in your best interest to consult a lawyer.
At Petrelli Previtera, we help our clients go from chaos to clarity in their divorce case. Get started today by scheduling your consultation.