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Divorce in Maryland: Know Your Rights

Divorce regulations vary from state to state, which is why it is important to review the legal requirements for divorce in your state of residence. Here, the family law and divorce attorneys at Rodier Family Law provide a detailed overview of divorce laws specific to Maryland.

What are Standard Maryland Divorce Rights?

Basic Maryland divorce regulations are as follows:

Residency Requirements

Concerning Maryland residency requirements for filing divorce, spouses in Maryland must be state residents for at least one year. However, there is no waiting period once the divorce is finalized and all additional legal requirements are completed. If the grounds for divorce occurred outside of the state, one party is required to have resided in state for a minimum of one year before filing for divorce.

Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce

In the state of Maryland, the standard and most common reasons for divorce include adultery, desertion and cruelty. Grounds for divorce can also include incurable insanity resulting in one spouse’s confinement for three years or more; desertion for a minimum of 12 months without any interruptions; conviction of a crime where the party has been sentenced for at least three years and has served at least 12 months; and excessively vicious conduct or abuse.

What are Defenses to a Divorce Filing?

Specific to fault-based grounds for divorce, an offending spouse can claim a defense if accused of desertion, adultery or another action which resulted in the other spouse filing for divorce. Defenses for a divorce filing include recrimination or condonation—recrimination defines when the offending spouse claims that the other spouse committed a wrongdoing as well, and condonation refers to when the offending spouse claims that the other spouse has forgiven their wrongdoing. If the defense succeeds in their claims, the court will not grant the divorce on a fault-based ground.

What are “No Fault” Divorce Laws?

Maryland is one of several states that offer “no fault” divorce. In a “no fault” divorce, you do not have to offer specific grounds or wrongdoings in order to file for divorce—the only requirement is that you must be able to prove that you and your spouse have been involuntarily separated for at least two years or voluntarily separated for at least 12 months. Limited divorce is also an option under the grounds of cruelty, separation or desertion. Limited divorce, which is often considered a form of legal separation, allows a couple to be designated their independent status while also remaining legally married.

What Are Additional Divorce Intangibles?

In addition to standard divorce, Maryland residents can also file for an annulment or legal separation, which refers to a court-approved separation which allows for couples to separate without permanently ending the marriage. These alternatives to divorce may benefit couples who desire to live apart but do not want to fully divorce due to financial or religious reasons. Other intangibles related to Maryland divorce rights include child custody and child support if you and your spouse have children together. If you are a parent who is filing for divorce, you should be aware of Maryland child custody laws.

Discuss Your Rights with a Maryland Divorce Attorney

Filing for divorce can be an emotionally and financially taxing period of your life and requires care, patience and support from friends, family and legal services. The Maryland family law and divorce attorneys at Rodier Family Law offer the experience and compassion necessary for a smooth and effective divorce process and can help protect your interests during this difficult time. If you seek a dedicated divorce attorney to evaluate and oversee your case, or have any additional questions about the intricacies of Maryland divorce rights, contact Rodier Family Law today.