Grounds for absolute divorce in Maryland
A judgment of absolute divorce legally dissolves a couple’s marriage. The couple must prove at least one of the grounds specified by the Annotated Code of Maryland’s Family Law statutes. A spouse who files based on desertion or felony conviction must remain separated and living apart for the preceding 12-month period. A petitioner filing because of the other spouse’s adultery, cruelty or vicious conduct can file immediately upon separation. The couple can also file after twelve months of separation without showing fault. Although incurable permanent insanity is another cause for divorce, proving this ground requires extensive documentation and three years separation.
In the meantime — filing for a limited divorce
While waiting for the requisite time to pass before filing for absolute divorce, separated spouses often face financial and childrearing disputes that they cannot settle themselves. A limited divorce provides them with a legal remedy until they can establish grounds for divorce. The court issues temporary orders regarding child custody, child support, spousal support, division of assets and health insurance coverage. To obtain a limited divorce, one spouse must prove cruelty, vicious conduct, desertion or mutual agreement to separate.
After obtaining a limited divorce, the couple remains legally married, with all the rights and obligations marriage entails — including ownership of real property as tenants by the entireties and inheritance rights under probate laws. The couple must still file for an absolute divorce to legally dissolve the marriage.