Maryland Divorce Laws

When deciding to file for divorce there are many emotional and logistical considerations.  In the state of Maryland there are rules regarding residency to establish jurisdiction and grounds for divorce to confirm that the divorce can be legally filed in that state.  If residency requirements are not met, the case will not be heard or will be eventually dismissed.  Below are the Maryland divorce laws currently in place.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

  • If the grounds for the divorce occurred outside the state of Maryland, there is a 1 year requirement.   If either spouse is a resident, then they may file in their county of residency.
  • If the filing on the grounds of insanity then the residency requirement is increased to two years.
  • Appropriate grounds for divorce must be declared on the Bill of Divorce.  The grounds for divorce must be lawful and agreed upon by both parties, or provable in court by the filing spouse.  Lawful grounds for divorce include:
    • Adultery
    • Cruel treatment toward the complaining party or minor child
    • Vicious conduct toward the complaining party or minor child.
    • Desertion, presuming the desertion has continued for 12 uninterrupted months prior to filing and that it is deliberate and final with no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
    • 2-year separation before filing, during which the parties have lived apart without interruption.
    • Insanity, if the insane spouse has been institutionalized for at least 3 years prior to filing.
    • Voluntary Separation, if the parties have lived apart for 12 months without interruption and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
    • Conviction of either a felony or misdemeanor in any state, the following must also be true:
      • Before the filing of divorce the defendant must have been sentenced to serve three years or longer in a penal institution, and served 12 months of the sentence

Division of Property and Support

Property division and child support may be decided based on the needs of the parties, the best interest of the children and the financial abilities of both spouses.  The division of child custody will impact the decision of support and the child’s age will determine the duration of support.

Spousal support is not an automatic obligation in the state of Maryland and is decided on a case by case basis by the court.  The amount of alimony and the length of support will be determined by the court.  In determining the amount of award is determined considering several relevant factors, including:  the age of the spouse seeking support, the standard of living established during the marriage, the grounds of divorce, the financial needs and earnings of each party, and the length of the marriage, among other things.  Other factors may be considered as well.

Child custody will be awarded to the parent or both parents’ best representing the best interests of the child.  Though there are no specific standards of automatic consideration, some factors contributing to the decision of the court would be, child’s wishes (depending on age), health and age of parents, as well as any other factors the court deems relevant.