People may not realize that there are many different legal paths to obtain a divorce in Maryland. One of these types of divorce is called a “no fault” divorce.
Previously in Maryland, when filing for a no fault divorce, a spouse needed to state some reason for the breakdown of the marriage. People commonly claimed “irreconcilable differences,” meaning that there was some disagreement that could not be reconciled. The spouse served with no fault divorce papers could not object to the petition.
However, the law in Maryland has recently changed, and now a spouse does not even need to state a reason for the desired divorce. All that is necessary is to state that you and your spouse have been living apart for a year or longer. In the case of mutual consent divorce, so long as you have no minor children, and follow the requirements listed below, a divorce can be granted with no waiting period.
Every one of the fifty states recognizes no fault divorce, but some states have statutes that spell out conditions that must be met before a person can obtain one. It is not uncommon for states to require that spouses live separately for some period of time before they can file for no fault divorce.
Under current Maryland law, all that a spouse needs to show is that they have been separated (in separate homes without sexual intimacy) for 12 months.
In some cases, if a person claims that they had sexual relations with their spouse during this period of time, the court may not grant them a no fault divorce.
Residency and Mutual Consent
In order to obtain a no fault divorce in Maryland, you must be a resident within the state for six months or longer. If your spouse has moved out of state, you (or they) may be able to obtain a divorce in that state instead, but it likely would not be in your best interest. The court that orders the divorce decree must also hear all other related matters. That means that if one’s financial situation changes, or revisions are needed to a child custody agreement, one would need to appear before the out-of-state court to address these issues.
In 2015, Maryland enacted a new “no fault” grounds for divorce, known as mutual consent. This may allow a couple to bypass the one-year separation requirement. A court can grant a divorce on these grounds if:
- The parties have no minor children
- They execute and submit a written, bilaterally signed settlement agreement that resolves all issues relating to alimony and property distribution
- Both parties appear before the court at the divorce hearing
- Neither party files a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement
Alternatives to No Fault Divorce
There are alternatives under Maryland law, a divorce on fault grounds such as adultery, an annulment, and a limited divorce, which is the legal term for a legal separation. If you are considering divorce, you should talk to an experienced divorce lawyer, because each of these avenues to obtain a divorce has different requirements and may not be applicable to every situation. If you have children with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, an experienced divorce lawyer can also talk you through Maryland’s child custody laws and child support guidelines as well.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles LLC Represent Individuals Seeking No Fault Divorce
If you are considering a divorce, an experienced Towson divorce lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles LLC is ready to answer your questions. Call us today at 443-589-0159 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We proudly represent clients throughout Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County, as well as the communities of Baltimore, Towson, Essex, Columbia, Pikesville, and Bel Air.