Maryland is currently among a minority of states without a true “no-fault” divorce. Some state lawmakers are hoping to change that and to make the divorce process easier.
They’re considering legislation that would do away with the current statutory grounds for divorce. These include adultery, cruelty, incarceration and insanity. Currently, a spouse can be granted an “absolute” divorce on one of these grounds or a divorce by “mutual consent,” which requires that the couple either agree to the split or first live apart for at least 12 months.
The legislation would allow couples to get divorced on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences,” which has become increasingly common throughout the country because it doesn’t place blame on one spouse or provide information about the marriage that people may not want others to have. With this legislation, a six-month separation would typically be required – although it doesn’t necessarily have to involve living in separate homes.
The legislation, as it currently stands, would also do away with “limited divorce.” This type of divorce doesn’t legally end a marriage. In a limited divorce, a court can determine financial and child custody issues for a couple living apart if they don’t yet qualify for “absolute divorce.”
Although the current grounds for divorce would no longer be necessary if the legislation passes and is signed into law, they can still be used if a court is called on to settle matters like child and spousal support and child custody if they’re relevant.
It remains to be seen whether the legislation will pass, what changes it might undergo before it does and if Gov. Wes Moore signs it into law. Whether the process is simplified or not, it’s still crucial to have experienced legal guidance as you divorce to protect your rights and seek the settlement you need as you move on.