The divorce process in Maryland: part I

Depending on the state in which a couple lives, laws related to divorce can vary greatly. In Maryland, a couple who wishes to divorce must meet certain requirements and may, or may not, be granted either an absolute or limited divorce. In the next couple of weeks, we'll take a look at how the divorce process works in Maryland and provide helpful tips for individuals who wish to obtain a divorce.

First, let's take a look at the differences between an absolute divorce and limited divorce. A limited divorce is also commonly referred to as a legal separation. While a married couple may choose to separate on their own, taking steps to obtain a limited divorce or legal separation helps a couple both determine and abide by terms related to living arrangements, child custody, child and spousal support and property division.

Spouses may choose to obtain a legal separation in cases where they have not met the requirements to file for an absolute divorce, they are not able to agree upon terms related to a divorce and/or they want to take advantage of the financial and tax breaks marriage affords. It's important to note, however, that a legal separation comes with certain restrictions.

A married couple who wishes to obtain a legal separation must live apart and are not allowed to have sexual relations with one another or anyone else. In cases where a spouse is unfaithful during a legal separation, such an act would be considered adultery and could therefore be used as grounds to obtain an absolute divorce. Additionally, because a couple is still legally married, problems may arise if one spouse wants to sell jointly-owned property.

In our next post, we'll discuss the requirements that must be met to obtain an absolute divorce as well as the benefits of doing so.

Source: The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Overview of Divorce in Maryland," Mary Jo Lazun, June 13, 2014