Effective October 1, 2011, there will be one fewer ground for absolute divorce in Maryland. When one thinks of “grounds for divorce,” adultery, desertion, cruelty and voluntary separation come to mind. But did you know that, until this year, Maryland had TWO different kinds of “no fault” divorces with two different waiting time requirements?
Until the Maryland Legislature passed House Bill 402/Senate Bill 577, an individual who wanted a divorce, but was married to someone who did not want a divorce, was forced to live separate and apart from his/her spouse for two years before they were permitted to file for an absolute divorce. When both parties want a divorce, the law only requires a one year mutual and voluntary separation.
With this new change to the law, Maryland has eliminated the two year waiting period. This means that any “no fault” divorce, regardless of whether the choice to divorce is mutual, may proceed in the court after the parties have lived separate and apart for one year. I believe this change to the law gives Maryland residents more freedom to leave broken marriages behind and move forward with their lives in a more efficient way. It also reduces the likelihood that one party can needlessly stall an inevitable divorce.
Please keep in mind that this new law does not go into effect until October 1, 2011, so if you have been separated for one year and your spouse is not on board with the divorce, you will still have to wait until October to file for absolute divorce.