Recent opinion will impact same-sex divorce filings

Is it easy to file for a divorce in Maryland? Then answer is not as simple as readers might imagine.

Specifically, although state law offers a no-fault divorce option, there is a catch: a 12-month involuntary separation. What that means is that a couple filing for a no-fault divorce must be able to prove that they lived apart for an uninterrupted year. Notably, a no-fault divorce filing does not require the other spouse's consent. After an individual has produced evidence of no cohabitation or sexual intimacy for one year, the divorce court generally will not require a showing or claim of fault in the divorce proceeding.

Of course, a fault-based divorce filing may be a much faster option. Thanks to a recent opinion issued by the state attorney general, the fault-based ground of adultery is now available to same-sex couples. Previously, extramarital conduct may have been defined only as sexual intimacy with a member of the opposite sex. However, the recent opinion clarified that same-sex couples should be able to divorce on this ground the same as Maryland’s heterosexual married couples. Consequently, an individual alleging adultery needs only show that his or her spouse was unfaithful.

This story illustrates that same-sex divorce filings might still raise novel issues of law, even in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision. Even more obstacles may face couples in a domestic partnership that wish to divide their property and/or clarify their child custody and support obligations. My law office has helped same-sex couples through these issues for years. That background allows me to offer sound advice as couples transition into a new phase of their lives.

Source: Washington Blade, "AG clarifies law on adultery for gay couples," Steve Charing, Aug. 19, 2015