New Maryland Divorce Laws in Effect October 2023
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New Legislation Changes Grounds for Divorce in Maryland

Jan 24, 2024 | Articles, Divorce Law, Martial Settlement Agreements, Separation and Divorce

By: Samantha J. Hall, Esq.

As of Oct. 1, 2023, the outdated laws creating unnecessary barriers to obtaining a divorce in Maryland are no more. Divorcing spouses are no longer burdened with proving fault that led to the end of the marriage, and instead can now only get divorced on these three no-fault grounds: 1) A six-month separation; 2) Irreconcilable differences; and 3) Mutual consent.

Maryland Divorce Law Prior to October 2023

Before October 2023, Maryland law provided two separate types of divorce: limited divorce and absolute divorce. Limited divorce (also known as legal separation) did not completely dissolve the marriage. Rather, it provided temporary relief for settling matters such as child custody, child support, alimony, or for someone who did not satisfy the grounds for absolute divorce.

A limited divorce could be revoked at any time if both spouses requested it to the court. However, with the new legislation that came into effect on Oct. 1, 2023, limited divorce has been eliminated as an option for couples seeking divorce.

Grounds for absolute divorce were categorized as either “fault” or “no-fault.” Under “no-fault” grounds, mutual consent is given from both parties accompanied by a 12-month separation period, wherein the couple must live apart for 12 months without interruption before filing for divorce.

“Fault” grounds for divorce included reasons such as adultery, desertion, excessively vicious conduct, and others. These grounds have been replaced with the three no-fault grounds mentioned above.

The New No-Fault Grounds for a Divorce in Maryland


Six-Month Separation

A six-month separation can apply in one of two situations. Either the spouses separated and moved into different residences for a period of at least six months without interruption, or the spouses still live in the same residence but live completely separate lives, i.e., they reside in different bedrooms and do not cohabitate, do not share mealtimes, maintain individual bank accounts, etc.

Irreconcilable Differences

Whichever spouse initiates the divorce sets forth reasons why the marriage should end. These reasons would demonstrate why there will never be a reconciliation between the spouses, and thus the end of the marriage shall be final.

Mutual Consent

Both spouses worked together to produce and sign a written settlement agreement that resolves all issues of alimony, distribution of property, custody, and child support. A marital settlement agreement leaves no issues for the court to decide because the spouses have resolved everything through the written settlement agreement.

How Divorce Will Look for Maryland Spouses in 2024

With this new law in place, obtaining a divorce is now more accessible and potentially more affordable. Spouses in unhappy marriages no longer have to worry about the expense and time spent trying to collect proof of their partner’s affair or desertion of the marriage.

The new statute also reduces the period of separation necessary before filing for divorce from one year to six months, and even without separation, spouses can get a divorce based on irreconcilable differences. If you want to discuss which option would be best for you, contact us today for our attorneys to help you move forward in your divorce.

About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Founded in 1998 in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Andalman & Flynn has forged a distinguished reputation for legal excellence. The Firm practices family lawestate planning, and probate throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia, and represents individuals seeking disability benefits throughout the country. The Firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone and is there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. The Firm has provided legal analysis on national and local television and radio, and its attorneys often testify before legislative bodies and are routinely invited to contribute to prominent legal publications. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, call 301-563-6685.