Changes may be on the horizon for Maryland divorce laws

Maryland currently has some of the most restrictive divorce laws in the country. A good example of that is the state’s current requirement that divorcing couples go through a one-year waiting period where they must live separately during that time. Usually, only incidents involving some form of marital misconduct such as adultery or behavior considered excessively vicious can shortcut that one-year waiting period.

Now, a handful of bills are now making their way through the Maryland state legislature with the goal of making it easier for some couples to divorce. In particular, the proposed legislation expands the scope of eligible divorce cases by allowing marriages involving domestic abuse to bypass the one-year waiting period requirement.

Another one of the proposed changes to the law seeks to incentivize divorcing couples to work out the terms of their divorces. That bill, introduced by state Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, would allow divorcing couples to file after hammering out mutual agreements regarding the care of their children as well as other issues like alimony and property distribution. According to the bill, any mutual agreement made by a divorcing couple will still require third party vetting to ensure that comports with Maryland’s focus on protecting the best interests of any children involved in divorces.

Still, another bill would make it easier for some spouses to obtain limited divorces in instances where domestic abuse is affecting marriages. That bill, sponsored by Del. Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery, would allow for spouses to obtain the formal separation provided by limited divorce without first having to establish that the divorce is irreconcilable or voluntary. This change in the law could potentially help victims in domestic abuse situations where the abusers may not voluntarily consent to end their marriages.

If you are a Maryland resident currently considering divorce, you should know that these laws have not yet gone into effect. However, a consultation with a Maryland family law attorney will make you aware of how current divorce laws may affect your divorce. By working with your attorney, you can explore potential divorce strategies tailored to your specific needs so that you can begin to move forward with your new life.

Source: The Star-Democrat, “Divorce law in Md. may be broadened,” Deidre McPhillips, March. 31, 2015