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Maryland Divorce Law

Grounds for Divorce in Maryland


The information on this page is for general information only and is not meant to replace legal advice.

Family Law varies from state to state and the information on this page is in regard to Maryland Family Law only.   Maryland Family Law is sometimes changed, and therefore any information on this web site could be changed without Notice at any time.

Maryland Family Law is drawn from the sources of the Maryland Code, Maryland Court Rules, and Maryland Case Law.   Individual laws cannot be fully comprehended without understanding how they interact with each other and within the elaborate Maryland Family Law Court system, and trying to interpret individual laws without understanding how they each interact with each other and within this system could lessen the chances of achieving an outcome in your case that you would consider favorable.

It is in your best interest to consult an experienced Family Law attorney to get specific legal advice regarding your individual case or situation before acting, making any agreements, or filing anything regarding a Divorce or Custody case.



There are two types of Divorce in Maryland

1)   Limited Divorce; and
2)   Absolute Divorce

Absolute Divorce is permanent, permits remarriage, and terminates property claims

Limited Divorce is not permanent, does not permit remarriage, and does not terminate property claims.   Limited Divorce serves only to legalize the separation and/or provide for Court-Ordered support before one of the Grounds for Absolute Divorce may be established.




The Grounds for a Limited Divorce in Maryland are

(1)   Cruelty (physical and/or verbal) to the Complaining Party or to a minor Child of the Complaining Party

If your spouse has endangered your safety or your health (or that of your child), you may have this as a Ground for Limited Divorce.   However, one incident may be enough if it was very violent and your spouse intended to harm you or your Child.

"Cruelty" may be physical or mental.   If your spouse has engaged in "Excessively controlling behavior," isolated you from others, taunted you, or engaged in other behavior that has impaired your health or happiness, or that of your Child, you may have this as Ground for Limited Divorce;

(2)   Excessively Vicious Conduct

(3)   Desertion

If your spouse has left you with the intention of ending the marriage and you and your spouse have not had sexual intercourse with each other since that time, you may have Desertion as a Ground for Limited Divorce.

There is no time limit that must pass before a party may file for a Limited Divorce, but the length of time is an element to be considered in determining whether the alleged abandonment is enough to meet the requirements of this Ground for Limited Divorce;

There is no time limit that must pass before a party may file for a Limited Divorce, but the length of time is an element to be considered in determining whether the alleged abandonment is enough to meet the requirements of this Ground for Limited Divorce;

(4)   Separation if the parties are living separate and apart without cohabitation



Adultery is not a Ground for Limited Divorce in Maryland - Adultery is a Ground for Absolute Divorce in Maryland though.



The Grounds for Absolute Divorce in Maryland are

(1)   Adultery

If your spouse has had voluntary sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex, other than you, without your consent, condonation, or forgiveness, you may have this as a Ground for Absolute Divorce.   To have this as a Ground, you must prove that your spouse committed the act of adultery or that he/she had the Disposition and Opportunity.   "Disposition" is when your spouse and someone of the opposite sex act romantically toward each other.   "Opportunity" is a specific chance to have sexual intercourse with that person;

(2)   Desertion, if:
  (i) the desertion has continued for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce;
  (ii) the desertion is deliberate and final; and
  (iii) there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation:

(3)   Conviction of a felony or misdemeanor in any state or in any court of the United States if before the filing of the application for divorce the defendant has:
  (i) been sentenced to serve at least 3 years or an indeterminate sentence in a penal institution; and   (ii) served 12 months of the sentence;

(4)   12-month separation, when the parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce;

(5)   Insanity if:
  (i) the insane spouse has been confined in a mental institution, hospital, or other similar institution for at least 3 years before the filing of the application for divorce;
  (ii) the court determines from the testimony of at least 2 physicians who are competent in psychiatry that the insanity is incurable and there is no hope of recovery; and
  (iii) 1 of the parties has been a resident of this State for at least 2 years before the filing of the application for divorce;

(6)   Cruelty of treatment toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;

If your spouse has endangered your safety or your health (or that of your child), you may have this as a Ground for Absolute Divorce.   However, one incident may be enough if it was very violent and your spouse intended to harm you or your Child.

"Cruelty" may be physical or mental.   If your spouse has engaged in "Excessively controlling behavior," isolated you from others, taunted you, or engaged in other behavior that has impaired your health or happiness, or that of your Child, you may have this as Ground for Absolute Divorce;

(7)   Excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation; or

(8)   Mutual Consent, if:
  the parties do not have any minor children in common;
(ii) the parties execute and submit to the court a written settlement agreement signed by both parties that resolves all issues relating to:
  1. alimony; and
  2. the distribution of property, including the relief provided in 8-205 and 8-208 of this article;
  (iii) neither party files a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing required under the Maryland Rules; and
  (iv) both parties appear before the court at the absolute divorce hearing.

  Recrimination.   -- Recrimination is not a bar to either party obtaining an absolute divorce on the grounds set forth in subsection (a)(1) through (7) of this section, but is a factor to be considered by the court in a case involving the ground of adultery.

(c) Res judicata.   -- Res judicata with respect to another ground under this section is not a bar to either party obtaining an absolute divorce on the ground of 12-month separation.

(d) Condonation.   -- Condonation is not an absolute bar to a decree of an absolute divorce on the ground of adultery, but is a factor to be considered in determining whether the divorce should be decreed.

(e) Effect of limited divorce on application for absolute divorce. --

(1) A court may decree an absolute divorce even if a party has obtained a limited divorce.

(f) Effect of mutual consent decrees on settlement agreements. -- If a court decrees an absolute divorce on the grounds of mutual consent under subsection (a)(8) of this section, the court may:
  merge or incorporate the settlement agreement into the divorce decree; and
(2) modify or enforce the settlement agreement consistent with Title 8, Subtitle 1 of this article. (2) If a party obtained a limited divorce on the ground of desertion that at the time of the decree did not meet the requirements of subsection (a)(2) of this section, the party may obtain an absolute divorce on the ground of desertion when the desertion meets the requirements of subsection (a)(2) of this section.

8-104. Voluntary separation agreement as corroboration of testimony In a suit for absolute divorce on the grounds of voluntary separation, a separation agreement is full corroboration of the plaintiff's testimony that the separation was voluntary if the agreement: (1) states that the spouses voluntarily agreed to separate; and (2) is executed under oath before the application for divorce is filed.