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Three Things You Need to Know about Absolute and Limited Divorce in Maryland

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If you are thinking about getting a divorce in Maryland, it is important to understand the difference between absolute and limited divorce.

While it is possible to get a legal divorce in many states within a year, Maryland requires a one-year separation for couples who are basically seeking no-fault divorce.  The separation period is one of the grounds for divorce in Maryland.  Other reasons for seeking divorce in our state include:

  • Adultery: If adultery is claimed and can be proven, a waiting period prior to divorce is not required.
  • Desertion: If one spouse leaves the marriage with the intention of ending the marriage, without the consent of their partner, it may be considered desertion and claimed as a reason for divorce after a 12-month waiting period.
  • Cruelty and excessively vicious conduct: The basis for these two grounds is domestic violence against a partner, a child, or a family member. The one year waiting period is not required in cases of domestic violence.
  • Insanity: If a partner is committed to an institution for three years and certified to be incurable, insanity can be used as a ground for divorce.
  • Conviction: Following the conviction and imprisonment of a spouse for a year, a partner may file for divorce using the conviction as a basis for the divorce.
  • Mutual consent: When a couple has no minor children and submits a written settlement agreement detailing their plan for splitting assets, property, and providing spousal support if needed, a divorce can be granted without a 12-month waiting period.

Upon proof of one of these grounds, or the completion of a 12-month waiting period, an individual, or a couple, can file for absolute divorce.  An absolute divorce dissolves the legal relationship between the couple and sets forth a binding arrangement concerning child custody and support, spousal support, and division of assets and property.

What is limited divorce?

Couples who are separating but need assistance making arrangements concerning spousal support, child custody and property division during the 12-month separation period can file for a limited divorce.  A limited divorce does not hasten an absolute divorce, but provides structure for a family during the separation period.

Three big differences between absolute and limited divorce include the following:

  1. Separation: During limited divorce or separation, a divorcing couple must live apart, as illustrated by different residences and bank accounts, among other factors.  If you cannot afford to live separately during the 12-month waiting period, speak with an experienced Baltimore divorce attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
  2. Legally married: When granted an absolute divorce, you are no longer married and free to date or remarry.  During separation or limited divorce, you are still married and a sexual relationship with another party is considered adultery.  A one-time sexual encounter with your divorcing spouse ends the separation period and the 12-month separation period begins anew.
  3. Final judgment of divorce: Arrangements made during limited divorce about property, or other issues may be altered by the court in the final divorce decree.

If you have difficulty working through child custody or support issues needed for separation, speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney in Maryland to learn your options and protect your rights.

Speak with a skilled Baltimore divorce attorney

When you need straightforward, knowledgeable legal guidance during separation or divorce in Maryland, we can help. Focused on divorce, child custody, and family law, the Law Offices of Allyson B. Goldscher, LLC serves individuals and families in Baltimore and Baltimore County.  Contact us when you have questions about divorce, or call 410-602-9522 to schedule an appointment to talk about your situation.