In practice, there are three methods of obtaining a “no-fault” divorce in Maryland even though only one is truly considered to be “no-fault.” First, in 2018, Maryland changed its divorce laws to permit actual “no-fault” divorces. This is called a Maryland “divorce by mutual consent.” A Maryland divorce by mutual consent allows for a divorce where the spouses have come to an agreement concerning all aspects of the divorce. Aside from divorce by mutual consent, Maryland allows couples to obtain a Maryland divorce based on the “for-fault” ground of “separation” or “abandonment.” While these are not technically called “no-fault” divorces, they are “no-fault” divorces in practical effect. This is because, to obtain a divorce based on “separation,” the only requirements are that the spouses have lived separately and not engaged in sexual relations for at least one year and “abandonment” only requires that one spouse have left the marital home with the intent not to return for at least one year. These for-fault grounds for a Maryland divorce remain valid and, as noted, amounts to a “no-fault” divorces. These can be used if the spouses are unable to agree and obtain a divorce through mutual consent.
If you have legal questions about “no-fault” divorce options in Maryland, call us here at the Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. Call for a consultation at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We can help and have offices in Columbia, MD and in Washington, DC. Here are more details on the types of Maryland “no-fault” divorces.
Maryland divorce by mutual consent
To be eligible to file for a Maryland divorce by mutual consent, the spouses must prepare and sign a written agreement that resolves all of the potential divorce-related issues. See Md. Code, Family Law § 7-103(a)(8). The issues are:
- Distribution of marital property and debt and
- The care, custody, access, and support of minor or dependent children
In addition, the following conditions must be true:
- One of the spouses lives in Maryland
- Neither party has filed a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement
- The spouses attach to the settlement agreement a completed child support guidelines worksheet if the settlement agreement provides for the payment of child support and
- If child custody and support is at issue, the court is satisfied that any terms in the settlement agreement relating the child(ren) are in the best interests of those children
Note that Maryland’s divorce by mutual consent requires agreement on everything. So, if children are involved, then the agreement will extend to the Maryland parenting plan. Parenting plans cover custody and visitation and issues like transportation and communications between parents and children. Failure to agree will prevent the spouses from obtaining a divorce by mutual consent.
Comparison to a Maryland divorce based on “for-fault” grounds
There are two main differences between a “no-fault” divorce by mutual consent and “no-fault” types of divorces. First, a Maryland divorce based on separation or abandonment does not require that the spouses prepare and sign a separation agreement that resolves the divorce issues. Second, there is a difference in the waiting periods. A divorce based on separation cannot be filed until after the spouses have been separated (and not engaged in sexual relations) for 12 months. Likewise, 12 months is a requirement for obtaining a Maryland divorce based on “for-fault” abandonment. That is, the abandonment must have existed for twelve months prior to the filing for divorce. There is no waiting period to file for a divorce by mutual consent.
Maryland and DC Divorce and Family Law Attorneys
For more information, contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and DC divorce, family law and estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. We have the experience and expertise you need. We also have proven experience with divorce and family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD and Washington, DC.