Court says phone sex during separation doesn’t nix divorce

In Maryland, one of the grounds for divorce is to be separated from your spouse for a period of 12 months. That was what convinced a Maryland man to believe that he could file for divorce from his wife in March 2012 after having being physically apart from her since March of the previous year. However, a Montgomery County judge disagreed with the husband after learning that he and his wife had engaged in phone sex during their separation, despite never having been physically intimate in that time.

The Montgomery County judge said in her ruling that the Maryland requirement for divorce of a year without cohabitation also extended to sexual relations, which she construed phone sex to be a part of the same category. In other words, the judge dismissed the case saying that phone sex negated the man’s claim that the pair had been separated for a year because they had still engaged in sexual relations during that time period, albeit not actual sexual intercourse.

The husband appealed that decision and on April 30 an appellate court remanded the case back down to the lower court saying that phone sex did not rise to the level of cohabitation. The three-member panel was unable to find applicable case law on the issue of phone sex in Maryland so they drew from previous cases in North Carolina and Louisiana in order to form their opinion. Now the husband’s petition for divorce can again move forward in the lower court.

As this case illustrates, divorce is not always an open-and-shut case. Just because one party of a marriage has decided to move on does not necessarily mean that the other is willing to give up their claim on the union. That is exactly why it is always best to retain an attorney specializing in the field of family law who can help navigate you around potential obstacles – some of which you might not be able to predict.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Phone sex is not really sex, Maryland court rules in divorce case” Ian Duncan, Apr. 30, 2014