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Maryland

Ground for Divorce Under Maryland Divorce Laws

The courts in Maryland will grant a divorce on the following grounds:

  1. Adultery
  2. Deliberate desertion for one year with no reasonable expectation of reconciliation
  3. Voluntarily living separate and apart without cohabitation for one year with no reasonable expectation of reconciliation
  4. Conviction of a felony
  5. Living separate and apart for two years without cohabitation
  6. Insanity of one of the parties
  7. Excessive cruelty or vicious conduct

Residency Requirements

If the grounds for divorce occurred outside of the State of Maryland, at least one of the parties to the divorce must have resided in Maryland for at least one year immediately prior to the filing of the action.

Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties

The action for divorce is filed in the Circuit Court. The title of the action initiating the divorce is a Bill for Divorce. The title of the action granting the divorce is referred to as the Decree of Divorce. The party who initiates the action for divorce is referred to as the Plaintiff, and the other party to the action is referred to as the Defendant.

Legal Separation

Legal separation in Maryland is referred to as a Limited Divorce. 

The courts will grant a judgment of Limited Divorce for the following reasons:

  • Cruelty of treatment or excessively vicious conduct
  • Desertion
  • Voluntarily living separate and apart with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation

The parties may be required to participate in good faith in reconciliation efforts prescribed by the court. Mediation may be required by the court when a limited divorce is sought. Additionally, if custody is a disputed issue, the court may also require mediation.

Alimony

Alimony may be awarded to either spouse. In making a determination as to the amount and period of alimony, the court may consider the following factors:

  • The ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting
  • The time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient knowledge or training to find suitable employment
  • The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The contributions of each party to the well being of the family
  • The circumstances of the demise of the relationship
  • The age, physical and mental condition of each party
  • Any agreement between the parties
  • The financial needs and resources of the parties
  • Any other relevant factor

Distribution of Property

Maryland divorce laws call for equitable distribution of martial assets, which means that yours and hers will be set aside and what belongs to both of you will then be split between the two of you as is deemed to be fair by the court. Factors the court will consider in distributing the marital property between the parties include:

  • The contribution of each party to the family’s well being
  • The value of each party’s property interests
  • The economic circumstances of each party
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age, physical and mental condition of each party
  • Any other factor the court deems relevant and just

Child Custody

The court will determine the issue of custody based upon the best interests of the child. 

Child Support

Maryland has enacted child support guidelines which establish the presumptive correct amount of child support.  This presumption may be rebutted by evidence that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances.  If the court determines that application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate, the court shall make a written finding on the record stating the reasons for deviating from the guidelines and stating what the amount would have been under the guidelines.

Name Change

The court will grant a name change to the person requesting it and return to the person’s former or maiden name as long as the reason for the name change is not illegal, fraudulent, or immoral and within the bounds of Maryland divorce laws.

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