Divorce: not as easy celebrity news stories make it appear

Often our understanding of divorce is shaped by the popular press, where celebrities marry and divorce seemingly as easily as most of us order our lunch. The popular perception, often aggravated by what we see in the news, is that divorce is as simple as signing a piece of paper. But the reality of terminating a marriage can be far more cumbersome and daunting than it is portrayed.

Complicated by property disputes and child custody, divorce proceedings in Maryland, or anywhere else, are often complex and time consuming. A divorce may even be contested by one of the parties, requiring additional proof and protracted proceedings. Making matters worse, the rules regarding divorce differ from state to state.

Depending on the situation, a Maryland resident who is filing for divorce often needs to establish grounds for the divorce. There are a number of ways that this can be done such as pointing to adultery, desertion and mental or physical abuse.

As an alternative to establishing grounds for a divorce, a couple may even seek a “no-fault” voluntary divorce after a one-year separation. Until recently, however, the law required couples who failed to agree on a no-fault divorce to wait two years before terminating their marriage. This law was originally enacted to preclude one party from perpetually preventing the other spouse from obtaining a divorce decree. Recently, the Maryland General Assembly reduced the separation time required for an individual seeking an involuntary no-fault divorce to one year.

Source: Carroll County Times, “Legal Matters: In Maryland, Kim would have to wait for divorce,” Donna Engle, Nov. 12, 2011