Grounds for Divorce Update New Law October 1, 2023
A SHAKE UP TO MARYLAND DIVORCE LAWS:
Maryland has been (for years) one of the only states that refused to recognize the reason most people separate and/or divorce: the spouse(s) no longer get along. Commencing October 1, 2023, Maryland will now recognize irreconcilable differences as a ground for divorce.
1. IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES
a. Once the new law is in place, the one (1) year separation necessary to file, and other fault based grounds (like adultery and cruelty) will no longer be available for the purposes of filing for an absolute divorce. A petitioner need only provide a sufficient basis by stating the facts on which he/she no longer can maintain a (successful) marriage with their current spouse. Essentially, asserting there are disagreements between the parties that cannot be fixed (reconciled).
2. REMOVAL OF MANY FAULT BASED GROUNDS & LIMITED DIVORCE
a. Once the new irreconcilable differences law is in place, the use of adultery, cruelty, excessively vicious conduct, and the prior grounds for limited divorce will be removed. As such, adultery may still be claimed and used to thwart an alimony request, or to show that custody is not in the child’s best interest (due to the infidelity), but asserting unfaithfulness or cruelty/excessively vicious conduct to the spouse and/or minor child(ren) of the parties may no longer be used as the stated ground(s) for the divorce.
Likewise the statute that allows for a limited divorce, based on separation of less than (12) twelve months, cruelty, and/or excessively vicious conduct will no longer be available. The reasons that usually are the root of irreconcilable differences (adultery and the like), may be facts now pled to support the use of irreconcilable differences as the ground for divorce, as one may still has to provide some proof as to what the irreconcilable differences are.
3. ONE YEAR SEPARATION IS NOW SIX MONTHS
a. The time limit for using separation as the grounds for divorce will now be lowered to a period of six (6) months: no longer one (1) year. This allows for filings in half the time previously utilized when filing for an absolute divorce in Maryland.
4. MUTUAL CONSENT REMAINS A GROUND
a. The parties may still use the ground of mutual consent to file for an absolute divorce, if they are able to come up with a signed agreement that resolves all their marital issues (including property, alimony, and child related issues, like child support, legal custody and physical custody).
Prior to the new ground of irreconcilable differences as a ground for an absolute divorce in Maryland, mutual consent was the only way by which couples could get divorced, if they were not separated, and there were no fault based grounds available (i.e. adultery, cruelty, and/or excessively vicious conduct). This is no longer the case, as of the new Maryland divorce law, commencing October 1, 2023.
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Edited by: Legal Staff
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