Recent legislation has changed the landscape of the law as it pertains to Divorce in the State of Maryland. Marylanders may now obtain an Absolute Divorce by “Mutual Consent.” The new Divorce Law no longer requires parties to physically separate in order to obtain a Divorce. Upon the filing of a Complaint for an Absolute Divorce, an Answer to the Complaint and a qualifying Marital Settlement Agreement, the Circuit Court of Maryland will schedule a hearing for the parties to finalize their Absolute Divorce on the first available date. A Divorce by Mutual Consent is a quick and inexpensive alternative for couples who wish to dissolve their marriage amicably. The requirements for a Mutual Consent Divorce are as follows:
(1) The parties have no children in common (2) The parties have signed and submitted a Marital Settlement Agreement to the court that resolves all issues regarding Alimony and the Distribution of Property; and (3) Both parties must appear before the Circuit Court for the final Divorce Hearing.
Many jurisdictions also require testimony from a corroborating witness at the final hearing, to provide additional evidence regarding matters plead in the Complaint for Absolute Divorce.
The new law is not applicable to couples that have children, even when parents have devised a comprehensive parenting agreement. Parents of minor children must live separate and apart for one year to obtain what would be considered a No Fault Divorce in Maryland. The one year separation requirement is obviated if the prevailing party asserts grounds such as Cruelty, Abandonment or Adultery.
Recent legislation has also changed the Residency Requirement to obtain Divorce in Maryland. The Maryland Residency Requirement has been reduced from 1 year to 6 months, if the grounds for Divorce occurred outside of Maryland.
There is additional support for the enforcement of Foreign Support Orders, as UIFSA has been brought into compliance with the Hague Convention.
Finally, Marylanders are no longer required to establish that the separation from an estranged spouse was voluntary or that there is no reasonable grounds for reconciliation, in order to obtain a Limited Divorce.
If you require assistance drafting a Marital Settlement Agreement, are seeking representation in contested divorce or custody proceedings or are contemplating separating from your spouse, give us a call. We are here to help.