Grounds for Divorce
In order to obtain an absolute divorce, one must first show that there are grounds for divorce. Grounds are legally acceptable reasons to end the marriage - in the state of Maryland, you cannot just point out irreconcilable differences and hope to end a marriage that way. There are seven different grounds. It doesn't matter which ground is used when it comes to simply terminating a marriage. For that purpose, one ground is as good as any other.
When deciding other factors, however, such as an award of alimony or the division of marital property, the judge will often consider which party is at fault for the divorce. In these circumstances, certain grounds (called fault-based grounds) can prove more beneficial to one party than another. The first two grounds for divorce this article will cover, twelve-month separation and mutual consent, are no-fault grounds. The rest are fault-based.
In order for an absolute divorce to move forward, the parties will need something called grounds for divorce. The grounds for divorce are mutual consent, twelve-month separation, adultery, desertion, cruelty or treatment, incarceration, and insanity. These will be discussed in more detail in a later blog post. Of note for today’s topic, however, is the twelve-month separation. If none of the other grounds apply, then the parties will have to live separate and apart for one full year.
For many people, this is a a simple process. Nothing needs to be filed with the court until a year has passed and both parties are ready to proceed with an absolute divorce. For some, however, it is not as easy. A year is a long time, and it is often difficult for one party to support themselves throughout that year. The parties may disagree on custody or child support through that one year, or who gets to remain in the marital home. In cases such as these, the court will need to get involved earlier than normal. If the parties do not yet have grounds for absolute divorce, but still need financial relief or are otherwise unable to resolve their matters privately, then limited divorce is an appropriate remedy. A limited divorce can establish child support and custody, spousal support (also known as alimony), and use and possession of property such as the marital home.
To ensure you are properly prepared for your divorce, contact us for your consult today!