What is a divorce?
Divorce is the act of ending a marriage. This is usually conducted in a court of law. One or both parties will ask for the marital union to be terminated. The judge presiding over the case will review the reasons (or grounds) that were given, evidence and testimony before determining whether to grant the divorce request.
What types of divorce are there in Maryland?
There are two types of divorce in the state of Maryland as of this writing: limited divorce and absolute divorce. Each kind of divorce has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. There may be reasons (or grounds) for divorce in both types, or the parties could agree to mutually consent to a divorce.
Limited divorce allows a court of law to manage a couple’s separation. Limited divorces may be sought by people who have not been able to agree on issues such as child custody or alimony or require financial assistance from their former partner. Limited divorce does not end a marriage.
This type of divorce is temporary and may only last for a few weeks or months at the most. Limited divorces may also be indefinite. Although legal separation is not currently recognized in Maryland, this kind of divorce may be viewed as a separation. Couples can still live together if they want. However, they are not allowed to remarry until an absolute divorce has been finalized.
Absolute divorce will terminate the marital union. Partners are not allowed to apply for an absolute divorce and then change their minds later. A court will issue a decree of absolute divorce when a divorce has been granted in those instances.
Parties may work together on a marital settlement agreement before entering divorce proceedings. They can also ask the court to make determinations regarding child support, child visitation, asset division, alimony and other important matters. A spouse can also ask the court to allow them to retain the previous last name that they used before entering into the marriage.
Why would someone want to get divorced?
Some couples may file for divorce because they’ve fallen in love with someone else or simply fallen out of love with each other. One partner may have experienced separation, abandonment, cruelty or threats of harm or violence toward them or their children by their spouse. One spouse could have spent the family’s income on themself or racked up debt in the other person’s name. These are just some of the many reasons why people in America opt to file for divorce nowadays.
Unless a mutual divorce is requested, one or both parties are typically asked to provide grounds for the divorce. Adultery, conviction of a crime, insanity, excessively vicious behavior, and cruelty are grounds that a court will evaluate during a divorce case. The person who has initially filed for divorce will need to provide evidence and testimony that can support those reasons.
What are valid defenses for an absolute divorce?
There are two fault-based defenses that a person who was served with divorce papers (also referred to as the defendant) can effectively utilize: recrimination and condonation. Condonation may be used when the defendant can prove that their conduct was forgiven or overlooked by their former partner (also known as the plaintiff). Recrimination may be brought up in court if both spouses’ conduct could be considered offensive or detrimental. Recrimination and condonation are only applicable to divorces that are requested due to adultery. These defenses are not evaluated when any other kind of fault has been brought up.
What is an annulment?
Annulment basically acts as if a particular marriage never existed. There must be clear proof to validate a person’s claims that the marriage was invalid. Annulments don’t happen nearly as often as divorces in Maryland, but they have been granted from time to time. Judges are typically much more likely to grant a divorce instead of an annulment.
Why would someone choose to have their marriage annulled?
Religious and theological reasons are sometimes brought up when a person has chosen to annul their marriage. They may also list one or more of the faults listed above. There could also have been reasons which would declare their marriage to be nonexistent. Some of those elements are as follows:
- One or both parties were mentally unable to understand the marital contract or had been declared legally insane.
- One or both people were already married to another person at the time.
- The partners are already related to one another by marriage or birth.
If one or more of those circumstances exist, the marriage in question could be declared null and void. The marital union would also be invalid. The validity of that marriage would need to be evaluated in court. A marriage can be voided if any or all the following can be proven:
- One or both parties didn’t properly understand marital consent.
- The person who officiated the marriage ceremony lacked the legal authority to do so.
- One or both people in the marriage was unable to physically engage in sexual activity with their partner.
- Marital consent was acquired through force, duress, or fraud.
- One or both parties was under the age of 18 at the time. Exceptions to this rule are if that particular person had both a physician’s certification of pregnancy and parental consent or if parental consent was given to the underage person who was at least 16 years of age or older.
Child support and property rights will be protected after an annulment has been awarded. The annulment decree will specify those provisions, as well as any alimony that may be required. Any children that the couple had together will remain legitimate even after the annulment.
The decision to end a marriage is never easy. Personal relationships will be forever changed regardless of the route you take. If you have questions, we have answers. Contact us today to set up a no-obligation consultation. Our trained professionals will sit down and listen to what you have to say. We’ll provide you with insight as to possible outcomes and next steps. We can even represent you in court if you wish. Getting you back on track again as soon as possible is our ultimate goal. It may take some time, but you’ll be back to loving life again before you realize it.