Maryland’s new divorce laws.
Every state has different laws regarding a no-fault, or uncontested, divorce. Generally, in order for a court to grant a divorce where both spouses agree on terminating the marriage, the husband and wife must show that they have been living separately for a minimum period of time, there is a general incompatibility between the couple, and the differences are irreconcilable. In Maryland, the time period for the separation was one year with a separation agreement, or two years without one. In the past, the couples needed to demonstrate that there were irreconcilable differences. The judge would question the husband and wife to determine if there was any chance of them reconciling.
However, as of October, 2011, a major change has occurred in how these types of proceedings occur. The Maryland General Assembly has eliminated the two-year separation period. Now, even without a separation agreement, to be granted a no-fault divorce in Maryland the couple only needs to prove that they have lived separate and apart for one year continuously. Separation means not physically living together and also includes any type of sexual activity.
What does that mean to you? This change shortens the time for divorce. It also allows for a faster, smoother process. No-fault divorces are designed to allow a couple to end their marriage in the quickest, least expensive way possible. However, many Maryland divorce attorneys are not aware of the changes in the law. The time they take to prepare their clients to satisfy the old rules ends up costing the client time and money. Also, many couples attempt to get a no-fault divorce on their own, without the aid of an experienced family law attorney, by downloading documents and instructions from the Internet. While this may seem like a good idea, most of these online resources have not been updated to reflect this important change in Maryland family law. With something as important as making sure your divorce goes through properly, it is always best to consult a family law attorney.