The Maryland State Senate recently passed a new bill making it easier for parents of minor children to obtain a mutual consent divorce. Sponsored by State Senator Robert Zirkin, a Baltimore County democrat, the proposed law would allow parents of minor children to obtain a mutual consent divorce without being separated for one year. Currently divorcing parents of minor children must be separated for at least one year before filing for a mutual consent divorce.
Mutual consent divorces can take place on no fault grounds for an absolute divorce. Absolute divorces are permanent and final ends to marriages. An absolute divorce allows a person to remarry unlike a limited divorce, which is treated like a legal separation. The absolute divorce can be granted without a separation period when certain circumstances have been met. Current Maryland laws set forth specific conditions wherein the court will grant a mutual consent divorce.
The Maryland State Senate Bill
Maryland Code: Family Law: Section 7-103 currently sets forth the following requirements for obtaining a mutual consent divorce without the need for a one-year separation period:
- The parties may not have minor children in common
- All issues related to alimony and property distribution must be resolved and part of a signed settlement agreement
- Neither party of the divorce has requested that the settlement agreement be set aside for any reason
- Both parties are present at the divorce hearing
When all requirements have been met and the filing fee is paid, a mutual consent divorce will be granted.
Under the terms of the recently passed Maryland State Senate bill, parents with children under the age of 18 may now file for a mutual consent divorce even if they have been separated for less than one year. This change to the current Maryland law further expands a 2015 revision to Maryland’s divorce laws, which allowed for married couples without children to obtain a mutual consent divorce as soon as a final separation agreement was drafted. Couples without children did not need to be separated for a year before filing their mutual consent divorce. The Senate bill extended this provision to include couples with minor children. The Maryland State Senate approved Zirkin’s measure with a vote of 33 to 14.
Opponents of Zirkin’s bill believe that removing the one-year separation requirement makes it easier for parents of minor children to obtain a divorce to the detriment of their families. Zirkin and other supporters of the measure are critical of the current Maryland divorce code, which they believe makes divorce more difficult and expensive than it needs to be. To become law, the Zirkin bill needs to pass the Maryland House of Representatives, as well as the Maryland State Senate, and be signed by Governor Hogan.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Clients Seeking Mutual Consent Divorces
Obtaining a mutual consent divorce in Maryland can be much easier with an experienced Towson divorce lawyer working for you. At Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, we help individuals filing for divorce with all their legal needs, including those related to the division of marital assets, alimony, child support, child custody, and post-divorce modification issues. Our offices are conveniently located in Towson and Hunt Valley, Maryland. Call us today to set up your confidential consultation at 443-589-0150 or submit an online inquiry form.