Of Counsel, Z Family Law, LLC Rockville, Maryland Divorce Attorney
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE
John Weaver will counsel and guide you through the sometimes confusing maze of divorce grounds and types of divorce, informing you of which grounds apply to your case, and the timing of pursuing the different types of divorce to meet your personal objectives.
There are two kinds of divorce in Maryland: Absolute divorce and Limited divorce. An absolute divorce terminates the marriage relationship, permits remarriage, and the courts can determine all property issues including dividing pensions and making a monetary award. Limited divorces are a judicially decreed legal separation; it does not terminate the marriage, and the court cannot determine all property rights.The court may make an alimony award in limited divorces and absolute divorces.
Because limited divorce grounds of desertion and separation do not require a specific duration of separation before filing, spouses often file for limited divorces to get into the court process, particularly if they need to obtain other incidental relief such as alimony. Courts usually schedule trial dates assuming that spouses will amend their pleadings when the requisite time periods for certain absolute divorce grounds mature, so that the actual final divorce merits hearing proceeds on an absolute divorce rather than limited divorce basis. However, there are some divorcing couples who prefer to obtain limited divorces for religious or other reasons.
When a divorce ground states a minimum time period, it must be satisfied before the pleading requesting such divorce is filed. Several divorce grounds are available only if there is no reasonable expectation of a reconciliation of the marriage relationship.
Serving MontgomeryCounty and FrederickCounty
The grounds for absolute divorce in Maryland are as follows:
(1) adultery; (2) desertion that has continued for 12 months without interruption, the desertion is deliberate and final, and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation; (3) 12-month separation, when the spouses have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months without interruption; (4) cruelty of treatment toward the complaining spouse or a minor child of the complaining spouse, if there's no reasonable expectation of reconciliation; (5) excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining spouse or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of a reconciliation; (6) mutual consent if: (i) the parties submit to the court a written settlement agreement signed by both parties that resolves all issues relating to alimony and property distribution, as well as the custody, access, and support of the parties' minor or dependent children; (ii) the parties attach to their written agreement a completed child support guidelines worksheet if the agreement provides for the payment of child support; (iii) neither party files a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing; AND (iv) the court is satisfied that any terms in the agreement relating to the minor or dependent children are in the children's best interests; (7) conviction of a felony or misdemeanor if the defendant has been sentenced to serve at least 3 years or an indeterminate sentence in a penal institution; and defendant has served 12 months of the sentence; (8) insanity resulting in at least 3 years confinement in a mental institution, hospital, or other similar institution, and certain other requirement have been met.
The Maryland limited divorce grounds are the following: (1) cruelty of treatment of the complaining spouse or of a minor child of the complaining spouse; (2) excessively vicious conduct to the complaining spouse or to a minor child of the complaining spouse; (3) desertion; or (4) separation, if the parties are living separate and apart without cohabitation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce Grounds
How do I prove my spouse's adultery? You don't have to catch your spouse in the act to prove adultery. Most cases are based on circumstantial evidence: Inclination (or disposition) such as public displays of affection or romantic emails or greetiing cards; and opportunity, such as frequent private late-night visits to paramour's residence or joint travel plans. Credit card receipts, personal notes or greeting cards, photographs, travel itineraries (airline ticketing receipts), cell phone bills, emails and other documents may be helpful in confirming adultery suspicions. A spouse's admission by itself usually is not sufficient proof because the courts are concerned whether there's collusion to avoid divorce grounds that require waiting periods. But in a contested divorce case an adultery admission by a spouse may be enough to corroborate the adultery. Mr. Weaver can discuss the circumstances with you and suggest appropriate ways to attempt to prove your spouse's adultery.
Can my spouse and I get a divorce even though we live in the same house? It depends. In Maryland, the limited divorce ground of separation and absolute divorce ground of 12-month separation require the spouses to have lived "separate and apart without cohabitation." This means you must have lived in completely separate residences throughout the separation period, and that you have not had sexual relations with each other during the required separation period. If you live under the same roof, even in separate parts of the same house, then you are not considered to be living separate and apart. Also, the separation and lack of sexual relations must continue without interruption throughout the required time period. However, certain misconduct of your spouse may entitle you to a divorce on the ground of desertion (or cruelty, excessively vicious conduct, or adultery) even though you continue living in the same house. But. two spouses who merely agree to continue to "live separate lives" within the same house are not entitled to divorce on any separation or separation ground.
Can I get a divorce from my abusive spouse? Maryland has several divorce grounds that would entitle an abused spouse to obtain a divorce: cruelty, excessively vicious conduct, and constructive desertion. For example, cruelty involves conduct endangering the life, person or health of a spouse (or minor child) rendering cohabitation unsafe. Physical abuse is the kind of violent, outrageousconduct which makes it impossible for the abused spouse or parent of an abused child to safely continue the married life. Maryland's public policy has moved toward greater protection for victims of domestic violence. John Weaver wrote the legal argument in the brief in an important case that confirmed and explained the nature and scope of absolute divorce ground protections for abuse victims. See Das v. Das, 133 Md. App. 1, 754 A.2d 441 (2000). The 2021 appellate opinion in Frazelle-Foster v. Foster, 250 Md. App. 52, further discussed cruelty of treatment and held that this divorce ground may be established by some incidents of cruelty spread out throughout the marriage, and the incidents need not be recent. Please note that the Maryland Judiciary website contains a directory of court based domestic violence programs throughout Maryland. Your safety and your children's safety are not negotiable and are matters of the utmost importance.
The content on this website is published for general information only, and is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion(s). No content on this website shoud be interpreted as legal advice. Relevant legal advice can be given, and relied upon, only after law firm has entered into an agreement to represent client(s). INFORMATION OBTAINED ON, AND SUBMITTED TO, THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP OR REPRESENTATION AGREEMENT.
John S. Weaver, Of Counsel
Z Family Law, LLC 51 Monroe Street, Suite 1501, Rockville, MD 20850