In October 2023, Maryland made changes to its laws to simplify the state’s lengthy and often disputed divorce process. As a result of these new laws, Maryland joined the majority of other states by introducing no-fault divorce, which eliminates the requirement of six long-standing grounds for divorce in Maryland, namely, criminal convictions, adultery, desertion, cruelty, insanity, and a mandatory 12-month separation period. 

In the article below, we will review one of these changes, specifically detailing the change to the 12-month separation period. 

divorce separation timeline

What Does It Mean To Obtain a Divorce in Maryland? 

In Maryland, divorce, or absolute divorce, results when a court legally ends a couple’s marriage. The court will enter an order, referred to as a divorce decree, which will end the marriage and settle issues related to the following:  

  • How to split up marital property 
  • Alimony 
  • Child support 
  • Child custody 

Once the divorce is completed and finalized, the parties can remarry. However, to better understand this process and what it can mean for you, consider reviewing your questions with an experienced Maryland divorce attorney.  

Is There Legal Separation in Maryland? 

In Maryland, there is no such thing as legal separation. If a couple lives separately for at least six months, the couple can file for divorce based on the legal reason of “six-month separation.” 

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Maryland? 

For a court to grant a divorce in Maryland, a spouse will need to prove at least one of the following grounds:  

Six-Month Separation 

To file for divorce in Maryland, a couple must have lived apart for at least six months without interruption. However, under this ground, a couple can live in the same residence and still be able to pursue a divorce as long as they have been pursuing separate lives. This separation can also be based on a court order.  

Mutual Consent 

To obtain a divorce based on mutual consent, the couple will need to establish the following: 

  • The couple agrees to a divorce and signs a marital settlement agreement that will resolve the issues related to marital property, alimony, care, support, and custody of dependent or minor children. 
  • There is a completed child support guideline worksheet if the settlement agreement requires that a spouse pay child support. 
  • Neither party objects to the settlement agreement before the divorce hearing. 
  • The court is satisfied that the terms of the agreement related to dependent or minor children are in the children’s best interest. 

Irreconcilable Differences 

“Irreconcilable differences” describes a situation where a couple has substantial problems or conflicts that cannot be resolved, leading to a marriage breakdown. Put, more simply, it means that the couple has significant differences that make it impossible for them to continue to be together as a married couple. When a couple files a complaint for divorce based on these differences, the issues that cannot be resolved will be the basis for requesting the permanent termination of the union.  

To Learn More About the Divorce Guidelines in Maryland, Contact Rice Law Today 

If you need further information about the divorce process or want to explore your legal options in more detail, contact Rice Law today and speak with one of our skilled and knowledgeable divorce attorneys to learn how our legal team can help you.