In the state of Maryland, what most people commonly refer to as legal separation is known as limited divorce. A limited divorce offers the same rights and protections as a legal separation. Spouses are still legally married, but will petition the court for decisions regarding custody, support, and property division.
If you are considering a limited divorce, you need to understand exactly how it will impact every area of your life. Our Friendship Heights legal separation attorneys can provide insight based on your unique situation and can help you make the right decision about separating from your spouse. We have over 40 years of collective legal experience and use this to deliver more effective counsel in litigation, negotiation, and mediation.
Contact our firm to learn more about limited divorce and how it may affect you.
Grounds for Limited Divorce in Maryland
The grounds for a filing for a limited divorce in Maryland are as follows:
- Cruelty: Just as in the case of an absolute divorce, you can petition the court for a limited divorce (legal separation) if you can prove your spouse endangered you or your child on more than one occasion. This can include endangering you or your child’s physical or mental wellbeing. However, it should be noted that, while the Maryland Code Section 7-102 as interpreted by the courts generally requires repeat occasions of physical or mental cruelty, if there was only a single incident, but that incident was particularly violent, that may be enough to prove cruelty.
- Actual Desertion: You can petition the court for a limited divorce if your spouse has left you and had the intention of ending the marriage. You must also establish that you have not had sexual intercourse with your spouse or lived in the same house for even a single night during the entire time your spouse has been gone. It is also necessary to prove that you did not cause your spouse to desert you. While it seems simple enough, things can get rather complicated during the legal process, and you should make sure to speak with a Friendship Heights limited divorce attorney who has experience with these cases.
- Constructive Divorce: Much like when filing for a standard divorce, you can also file for a limited divorce if your spouse has constructively deserted you. This occurs when your spouse has acted in such a way that has made it virtually impossible to live under the same roof with him or her. Again, there is the requirement that you have not slept with your spouse or moved back in, even for a single night. You must also establish there is no reasonable chance you will get back together with your spouse.
- Voluntary Separation: Voluntary separation is an additional ground under which you can file for a limited divorce. You must prove you and your spouse agreed to live separate and apart for the reason of ending your marriage. This, again, has the no sexual intercourse and living apart requirements of many of the other grounds. However, unlike with an absolute divorce, you do not need to meet the one-year requirement.
If you are legally separated in Maryland, you can petition the court for child support, alimony, child custody, and visitation. You might want to file for a limited divorce if your religious beliefs prevent you from getting a divorce, or if you have not yet met all of the requirements for an absolute divorce. You also should understand that you cannot get remarried until you have been granted a divorce absolute.
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