In a move aimed at simplifying and expediting the divorce process, Maryland is implementing a no-fault divorce law, set to take effect soon. The state’s General Assembly passed this significant measure on April 7, and it was signed into law by Governor Wes Moore on May 16.
This new legislation is expected to have a substantial impact on divorce proceedings in Maryland. Notably, it will reduce the time and financial resources typically required for the legal process, making it more accessible and less burdensome for individuals seeking divorce. One of the key changes is the elimination of court-supervised “limited divorces” during child custody battles, streamlining the process further.
A Simple Divorce Process
Under the revised law, couples seeking divorce will only need to demonstrate that they have been living “separate lives” for six uninterrupted months, even if they reside under the same roof. Alternatively, they can assert “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce. The new statute also introduces provisions for divorces based on mutual consent or the medical incapacity of one spouse to make legal decisions.
Previously, Maryland law mandated that couples live in separate locations for 12 months before being eligible for divorce on those grounds. This is similar to North Carolina’s requirements for separation. With the new law, at-fault grounds for divorce such as adultery, desertion, criminal convictions, insanity, and cruel treatment or excessively vicious conduct towards a spouse or child will no longer be considered.
While the law eliminates spouses’ ability to file for divorce on at-fault grounds, it still allows trial lawyers to present evidence of abuse, adultery, and other offenses to help determine custody, alimony, monetary awards, and legal fees, ensuring a fair resolution for all parties involved. These changes mark a significant step towards a more accessible and efficient divorce process in Maryland.
Perhaps North Carolina needs to revisit their more onerous one-year separation requirement, especially considering the economic and logistical conditions of our time.