Until 2016, Maryland law stated that all couples seeking to file for divorce first had to be legally separated for one year, with no exceptions but cases of abuse and adultery. This was a difficult issue for many separated couples and often made divorce proceedings uglier. Couples who might have otherwise wanted to keep the issue of adultery out of their divorce proceedings felt pressured to bring it up just to avoid adhering to the full one year requirement.
This law has now been amended to exempt separated couples with no minor children who have a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA).
Exemptions Under The New Law
According to the new law for divorce and legal separation, couples can eliminate the waiting period if:
- Both parties consent to the divorce;
- They have no minor children; and
- They can agree on a settlement
The goal of this new law is to incentivize couples to settle things amicably rather than putting them through the stress of having to wait for 12 months to have things in writing. If all three of these conditions apply to you, contact the Family Law Offices of Corrie Boulay to go forward with your proceedings.
When It Doesn’t Apply
At this time, if you have children under the age of 18 or both parties are not in agreement about the divorce, you do still have to undergo the 12 months of voluntary legal separation. According to law, the clock starts as soon as one party moves out of the household. If the parties sleep under the same roof again for even one night, the year starts over again. You can be exempt from this waiting period in cases of abuse or adultery.
In the case of desertion rather than voluntary separation, you can still file for divorce after 12 months. Contact an attorney for more information about your rights in cases when one party is absent.
Free Attorney Consultation
If any of the exemptions to the one year period of legal separation apply to you or if you are struggling to reach a settlement agreement, contact the Law Offices of Corrie Boulay. Our attorneys will help you figure out the next steps to take with as little stress as possible.
To schedule a free initial consultation with a family lawyer at our firm by phone or at our offices, call 410-964-9622 for our Columbia office or 410-268-2488 for our Annapolis office.