A bill recently proposed in Delaware could have an impact on how other states consider homosexuality when a couple declares legal grounds for divorce.
In order to file for divorce in Delaware, an individual must file a Petition for Divorce, where they declare a specific “grounds” upon which the divorce is being sought. Delaware courts can enter a decree of divorce if they find that a marriage is irretrievably broken, which is characterized in part by one spouse’s misconduct. Misconduct is defined as a behavior so destructive that a person filing for divorce could not reasonably be expected to continue in the relationship. Currently, both “homosexuality” and “lesbianism” are explicitly named in the statutory definition of misconduct. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Delaware since 2013. Other explicit examples of “misconduct” include adultery, bigamy, a criminal conviction that could result in imprisonment for a year or more, habitual drinking or drug use, and contracting a sexually transmitted disease. All of these forms of misconduct also affect alimony and child custody.
The proposed legislation in Delaware would strike both “homosexuality” and “lesbianism” from the definition of marital misconduct. This will stop disgruntled spouses from using this definition of misconduct to upset or deride their former partners. Another concern is that a person who has an extra-marital affair, regardless of whether it was same-sex or not, should not have a difference in procedure in court. Currently, if a married homosexual person in Delaware had an affair with a same-sex partner, this would more properly be classified as misconduct, and not adultery. In proposing this bill, Delaware is seeking to equalize the divorce process for same-sex and different-sex couples.
In Maryland, a person must file a Bill for Divorce where they declare the appropriate grounds upon which the divorce is being sought. Some of the grounds for divorce a court may decree in Maryland include:
- Mutual consent
- Desertion for one year
- 12 month separation, living separate and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for 12 months
- Conviction of a felony or misdemeanor
- Cruelty of treatment or excessively vicious conduct
This bill could potentially impact how courts in Maryland (and other states) interpret “adultery” as grounds for divorce.
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If you are considering a divorce in Maryland, the reputable Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC have extensive experience in helping couples with same sex family law issues. With offices located in Hunt Valley, Pikesville, and Towson, we represent families throughout Baltimore County, Harford County, Carroll County, and Howard County, including Essex, Columbia, and Bel Air. Call us today at 443-589-0150 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.