LIMITED & ABSOLUTE DIVORCE
Maryland Divorce Lawyer Explains Limited & Absolute Divorce
Unlike some other states, there are two types of divorce in the state of Maryland and choosing which one to go through is best discussed with a Maryland divorce lawyer. The two types of divorce are:
- Absolute Divorce – This is a final, absolute and permanent form of divorce. In this type, all issues relating to alimony, child custody, child support, and property are handled by the court. After an absolute divorce, the individuals involved may remarry
- Limited Divorce – This is a form of divorce that is like separation that is supervised. As the state of Maryland has requirements for absolute divorce, a couple may seek limited divorce when there are not grounds for an absolute divorce. No final decisions regarding property, child custody, etc. are necessarily made during limited divorce proceedings. Spouses may not get remarried during a limited divorce.
Absolute Divorce in Maryland
Absolute divorce is the more traditional, permanent form of divorce that most people associate with when they think of “divorce.” In Maryland, there must be a specific reason for divorce, not simply irreconcilable differences as is commonly the cause for divorce in other states. There are seven grounds for which an individual may seek an absolute divorce as outlined in Maryland Family Law Code.
Maryland divorce attorney can explain in more details as it pertains to your case but the 7 grounds are:
- Adultery – Specifically sexual intercourse, not including oral sexual acts, is considered adultery. While it can be somewhat difficult to prove your spouse has committed adultery, corroboration from a third party who has no stake in the case is usually sufficient. Circumstantial evidence such as public displays of affection and evidence or witnessing of suspicious behavior, such as engagement late at night, is usually sufficient. If the spouse seeking divorce from their cheating partner, knowing about and ignoring the cheating nullifies the argument for grounds for divorce. When a partner knows his or her spouse has cheated but continues marital relations, the court considers this an act of forgiveness and condonation. A continuation of the condoned affair or an additional affair may be used as grounds of divorce.
- Desertion – There must be 12 months of uninterrupted desertion of one spouse by the other. There can be no hope for reconciliation – the desertion bust be seen as deliberate and final. If the deserting spouse returns and the other spouse rejects a good-faith attempt at reconciliation, this spouse may be considered guilty of desertion with the 12 month period starting over at the time of this rejection.
- Twelve months of separation – Similar to desertion but less malicious, twelve months of separation means living separate lives in separate homes without interruption. Because there are nuances in every case, it’s best to seek legal advice from a Maryland divorce attorney to understand which ground pertains to you.
- Felony or misdemeanor conviction – If, before filing for divorce, either spouse is convicted of a crime and is sentenced to 3 or more years or an indeterminant amount, and has served 12 months of this sentence, there is grounds for divorce.
- Insanity – The spouse must be judged permanently insane and confined to an institution or hospital for three or more years before filing. At least two psychiatrists must testify that the spouse is incurable with no hope for recovery.
- Cruel treatment – Severe behavior toward the complainant or a minor child of the complaining party may be used as grounds for divorce. Not all unpleasant treatment qualifies as cruelty. The behavior must be severe enough to permanently deny the suffering spouse or child of happiness or severely affects the health of the spouse or child. This is a grey area and even a single act of physical violence combined with verbal abuse may be seen as insufficient by the court. Extreme mental abuse such as forced isolation from friends and family may be sufficient.
- Mutual consent – Introduced in 2015, mutual consent is available to Maryland residents without any minor children in common. Alimony and property rights must be agreed upon and in writing. As long as they meet these requirements and both appear in divorce court uncontested, a no-fault divorce may be granted. Previously, spouses who mutually wanted to get a divorce would have to undergo option 3, a full year of physical separation while remaining legally married.
While seeking an absolute divorce, either spouse may petition for:
- Custody (sole or joint) of the children
- Alimony, child support, and allocation of property
- Equitable distribution of all parties’ assets, which may consist of selling joint property and dividing the proceeds
- Resumption of maiden name
Limited Divorce in Maryland
Maryland limited divorce, a couple’s separation is monitored by the court. This is an option for couples who do not have grounds for an absolute divorce or are unable to privately settle their differences. It is not required to undergo a limited divorce before seeking an absolute divorce if there is sufficient grounds, which a Maryland divorce attorney can help establish for you.
There are some requirements to obtain a limited divorce, such as residency requirements and grounds. The grounds that may be used to obtain a limited divorce are:
The court may determine a limited divorce as limited in time or permanent. The limited divorce may be revoked at any time that the involved parties jointly seek to do so. The spouses live apart and are not allowed to remarry and sexual relations with individuals is not involved in the marriage as it is considered adultery. These specific grounds can get tricky and it’s helpful to seek advice from a Maryland divorce lawyer who can evaluate your situation and guide you through this challenging time in your life.
The court may determine whether there is fault and who is at fault. The following may be established in a limited divorce:
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.