LEGAL SEPARATION, LIMITED DIVORCE & ABSOLUTE DIVORCE
In the State of Maryland family law proceeding such as “legal separation” does not exist. Instead citizens of Maryland are offered two options: (1) limited divorce or (2) absolute divorce. Limited divorce is NOT permanent, absolute divorce IS permanent.
When a couple wishes to separate but are not ready to go through a full blown divorce proceeding, limited divorce is the remedy. This proceeding is very similar to a proceeding described as “legal separation” in other states. The court will recognize the decision of the parties to maintain separate housing or residences, bank accounts, but will stop short of dissolving a marriage. The proceeding of limited divorce may be helpful as a starting point while the parties work their way towards an absolute divorce.
Majority states in the union, like California, Florida, Arizona, etc., adopted a no-fault divorce, which does not require a showing of an acceptable reason for separation. Maryland, on the other hand, has both (1) fault and (2) no-fault divorce.
Maryland law provides eight grounds for divorce, and at least one of those grounds must be proven to proceed with a dissolution of marriage, they are: (1) adultery, (2) desertion, (3) voluntary separation, (4) conviction, (5) two year separation, (6) insanity, (7) cruelty, and (8) excessively vicious conduct. Until and unless one of these grounds is met, the an “absolute” dissolution cannot proceed.
Therefore, if a couple decides to divorce and wish for a completely clean break, they cannot get an “absolute” divorce until one of the grounds is met. Both desertion and voluntary separation grounds require the couple to live separately and apart for an interrupted period of 12 months. In turn, that couple wishing to divorce may apply for a no-fault divorce or limited divorce, separate and continue living separately and apart for 12 months, after which they can proceed for an absolute divorce. However, that year of living apart will allow the couple to begin establishing independence, and any support and visitation orders, if necessary.
Speak to a Maryland Divorce Lawyer If You’re Filing for Divorce
Divorce can be an emotionally and financially straining moment in your life. Choosing any type of decision that can affect your entire family needs to be carefully thought through and in moments of emotional pain and frustration, it can be overwhelming to know what the best decision is. The best thing you can do for the future of you and your family is to consult a Maryland divorce lawyer for legal advice. With many years of experience handling divorce cases throughout Maryland and the metropolitan area, you can trust The Burton Firm to be by your side through this difficult time.