Do I Have to Be Separated to Get a Divorce in Maryland?

Divorce law can be complex. It varies from state to state, with each recognizing different reasons for divorce and specific separation requirements. While some states require couples to be separated for a specific period of time before applying for divorce, Maryland is not one of them. While Six-Month separation is a legal grounds for divorce, separation is not required prior to filing a divorce. 

So, if you and your spouse wish to get a divorce separation is not necessary.

Defining Divorce in Maryland

A divorce formally ends a couple’s marriage. The legal process severs the civil contract between the couple, allowing them to go their separate ways and remarry. During this process, the court will enter an order called a Judgement of Divorce, which will legally end the marriage. 

This decree can settle unresolved issues within the marriage, including alimony, property distribution, child support and custody. 

Grounds for Divorce in Maryland

Maryland law legally recognizes multiple grounds for divorce, including mutual consent, 6-month separation, and irreconcilable differences. 

Mutual Consent

Mutual consent is a legally recognized reason for divorce. In these situations, both spouses mutually agree on applicable issues, including the distribution of property, alimony, and child custody, support, access, and care. 

In these divorces, spouses must execute and submit a written settlement agreement covering each applicable issue to the court. As long as neither party files to set the agreement aside before the divorce hearing and the court is satisfied with the terms surrounding the children, mutual consent can be the quickest way to a divorce.

6-Month Separation

While separation isn’t required for divorce in Maryland, it is a legally recognized reason for divorce. If you and your spouse have been living separately and apart for six continuous months, you may file for divorce, using separation as grounds for divorce. 

However, you don’t necessarily have to live under separate roofs to use this as a reason for divorce. If you and your spouse have been residing under the same roof but have been living entirely separate lives, you may use the separation as grounds for divorce. 

Irreconcilable Differences

Couples who are unable to agree on most things or important things and cannot keep their marriage going may petition for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split. These differences may include adultery, differences in religion, cruelty and abuse, or different opinions on how to raise children. 

Maryland eliminated fault-based divorces in 2023, but many of the fault-based reasons for divorce can still apply. These typically fall under the umbrella of irreconcilable differences. 

Get Personalized Assistance With Your Maryland Divorce

Divorces in Maryland can be confusing. Between recent changes to divorce law and varying legally recognized reasons for divorce, understanding the specifics can be overwhelming. That’s where we come in. 

If you’re divorcing your spouse and need help navigating the legal system, our team at Jezic & Moyse is here to help. We understand how stressful and emotional these cases can be and are here to listen and understand your goals, advocating for your interests through every step.

Contact us at (240) 292-7200 or complete our online contact form today to learn more about how we can help you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Maryland Divorces

Can I Get Legally Separated in Maryland?

While some states offer legal separation, Maryland isn’t one of them. The state recognizes separation as a legal reason for divorce, but aside from that, it isn’t an option. Instead, the only way to legally separate is through divorce. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Maryland Divorce?

Maryland doesn’t require divorcing couples to hire lawyers for the proceedings. However, divorce can be complex, especially if you and your spouse have unresolved issues, such as child custody or alimony issues. A lawyer can help you navigate the divorce, advocating for your best interests and determining the best course of action specific to your situation. 

Can You File for Divorce in Maryland if You Still Live Together?

Under Maryland law, couples may apply for divorce if they’re still living together. The law allows couples who are or have been residing under the same roof but living separate lives to file for divorce. It’s a legally recognized reason for divorce, allowing couples to avoid the financial headache of having to live separately before divorce. 

Does Maryland Offer Fault-Based Divorces?

On October 1, 2023, Maryland eliminated fault-based divorces. Before this point, spouses could pursue divorce on fault-based grounds, including adultery, cruelty of treatment, or desertion. With these changes, these divorces are no longer available. However, the state does offer divorces with irreconcilable differences, which may encompass the fault-based grounds cited as the reason for the split. 

How Long Does a Maryland Divorce Take?

Multiple factors can impact the amount of time it takes to finalize a Maryland divorce. More complex divorces, such as those with unresolved issues surrounding asset division or child custody, often take longer. Simpler divorces may be finalized in as little as six months. It all depends on the specifics of your divorce. 


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