New legislative action means Maryland couples with children can move more readily through divorce with the mutual consent of both parties.
To obtain a divorce in Maryland, all couples formerly had to prove they had lived apart for 12 continuous months, without sexual relations, in order to obtain a no-fault divorce. This “no fault” divorce means that neither party has to prove the fault of the other but both seek to end their marriage.
This one year separation can be a real hardship on couples who are ready for divorce. In addition to suspending their lives for a year, the separation takes a toll on financial well-being and the emotional health of everyone involved as the action drags on into divorce after separation.
In October, 2015, the Maryland legislature created divorce by mutual consent for couples to gain an absolute divorce. An absolute divorce is a legal action that dissolves the marriage, whereas a limited divorce is a legal status that couples can attain while they are separated but still married.
By allowing couples to divorce through mutual consent, the parties can avoid the 12-month separation period through filing a mutually agreed-upon divorce settlement that resolves all the issues of divorce. By filing the document and appearing in court, the couple can obtain an absolute divorce without waiting a year. The one catch is that this type of divorce is only available for couples with no children.
In the most recent legislative session, Maryland lawmakers in the House and Senate passed a similar bill that allows a court to grant an absolute divorce on the grounds of mutual consent even if the couple has children. When the measure is signed by the Governor, the settlement agreement filed in these cases must cover issues that include:
- Full disclosure about the handling of alimony or spousal support
- Agreement with regard to division of all property and marital assets (and debt)
- The agreement must detail the care, custody, access, and support of minor or dependent children, including the worksheet for child support guidelines
- There must be no disagreement between the parties as to the issues, and both parties must be present at the court hearing
Lacking the new legislation, families that could use their time and resources to create a new family situation must wait to stabilize their lives and relationships through an absolute divorce.
With this legislation, lawmakers are giving couples who have children the same opportunity to peaceably and economically resolve their divorce issues, file a settlement document with the court for approval, and get started on the next chapter of life.
Talk to a trusted divorce attorney serving Baltimore County today
The Law Offices of Allyson B. Goldscher, LLC provide you with dedicated, individual legal service and strong legal representation on matters of divorce, child support and custody, and other family law issues. When you have legal concerns about divorce, call 410-602-9522 today.