New Maryland Laws May Help You Get that Divorce Faster!

With the present state of the economy, it is oftentimes very difficult to maintain two separate households for a year or longer before one is even able to FILE for a divorce. Thankfully, the Maryland legislature has taken notice of the burden that a mandatory one-year separation requirement takes on many families. With the passage of Senate Bill SB472, many Marylanders will not have to wait an entire year before filing for divorce.

To see a full text version of the new law, which takes effect October 1, 2015, go here:

Those that qualify for this new “ground of divorce” are individuals who have been able to resolve all pending issues with their soon-to-be former spouse, have a signed settlement agreement, who do not have any minor children in common and who consent to the divorce. Another requirement is that both parties must attend the final uncontested divorce hearing.

Although individuals with minor children in common do not currently qualify for a “by consent” divorce with no one-year separation, couples who have adult or emancipated children together may take advantage of the new law. Similarly, if one of the spouses has children from a prior marriage or relationship, but the other individual is not the biological or adoptive parent, the parties may be able to file without waiting a full year.

Divorcing parents with young children in common may be disappointed that they are unable to “waive” the one-year waiting period, but this change in the law is certainly a step in the right direction. Hopefully the Maryland General Assembly will continue to lessen the separation requirements for those who do not yet qualify for this relief.

Another significant development in the area of Maryland Family Law is that the legislature has passed House Bill HB 1185, which reduces the time from one year to six months for the time needed for one of the parties to reside in Maryland if the grounds for divorce occurred outside of Maryland. 

Kate McDonough, Esquire