What are grounds for divorce?
Grounds for divorce refer to the reasons why a partner is seeking to end their marriage. Grounds are typically only expected for an absolute divorce. They don’t necessarily need to be given for a limited divorce, because limited divorces are temporary and don’t dissolve a marital union.
People seeking a limited divorce may list one or more of the following grounds:
- Desertion. Desertion happens when one partner decides to live somewhere else and moves out of the marital home. This conduct is often intentional and without the other person’s consent or even knowledge in certain cases. Desertion can be constructive or actual in the state of Maryland. Constructive desertion is justified in the eyes of the law. Judges will often view the person who left the family home as the individual who was deserted during the marriage. Actual desertion is when one spouse leaves the family home without reason or warning.
- Excessively vicious or cruel conduct. The spouse who was accused of cruel or vicious conduct must have exhibited physical, mental or emotionally damaging acts against their former partner or any children that the couple had together. It is usually a pattern of behavior, instead of one or two isolated incidents.
- Separation. Separation can be a fault or no-fault ground for divorce. If couples are separated for 12 months or longer, it could be considered a no-fault ground for divorce in the state of Maryland. The time period cannot be interrupted, and the partners are forbidden from engaging in sexual intercourse with each other if separation is to be used as a no-fault reason for requesting the divorce.
Those reasons can also be given by partners who are seeking an absolute divorce. They could also cite one or more of these additional reasons for their request:
- Insanity. Insanity must be proven if it is being used to explain why one person wants to divorce from their spouse. That partner will need to have been confined in a mental hospital, institution or other similar organization for at least three years or more before the divorce petition has been filed.
- Imprisonment. Having a spouse who has been incarcerated for a crime they committed is another common fault-based reason for seeking a divorce in Maryland. The person who uses imprisonment as their reasoning should be able to show that their former partner has been jailed for a minimum of 12 months. That time must be consecutive and not interrupted in most instances.
- Adultery. Adultery is another fault that people have used for wanting to end their marriages. Even though one spouse may suspect that the other has been cheating on them, such acts must be proven. This can be difficult to confirm in some cases. However, there have been situations where the person who was accused of adultery eventually confessed to their misdeeds. If adultery can be verified, a judge could even grant an absolute divorce right away.
- Mutual consent. There may be times when a couple simply falls out of love with one another or wants to move on with their own separate lives. In those situations, both parties may agree to mutually consent to the divorce. This can make things much easier during divorce proceedings, especially if the partners have created a marital settlement agreement before the case has gone to court.
Do grounds need to be given when asking for a divorce in Maryland?
Unless you’re asking for a limited or mutual consent divorce, the court is usually going to want to know why you want to get divorced. That’s why it’s important to have at least one reason in mind for seeking the termination of your marriage. It’s also a good idea to communicate your intent with your partner, unless they have deserted or abandoned you or you have serious concerns that they may harm you or your children as a result.
Will I be asked to prove the grounds for divorce that I listed?
You or your legal counsel may need to provide evidence, testimony or witnesses to support your claims during the divorce proceedings. If you are the person who filed the initial complaint, you will be referred to as the plaintiff. The person that you’re seeking the divorce against will be known as the defendant. Each side will have an opportunity to present information that corroborates their claims.
What can I do if I’ve been served with divorce papers?
People who have received divorce papers have 30 days to reply if they currently reside in the state of Maryland. That deadline is extended to 60 days for people living in another state and up to 90 days if they live in a different country. They can agree to the divorce or refute the claims and represent their assertions in court if they so choose.
One or both parties can dispute the divorce decree after it has been issued. An appeal will take time and effort, which is something that some people may not be able to afford. They can discuss the matter with their attorney or the judge if the ruling seems unclear or certain aspects (such as alimony, child support, child visitation, etc.) are ambiguous.
Divorce can be complicated. People who have filed for divorce or received divorce papers may wonder how this will affect their personal relationships with family members and others who are close to them. We can help you understand what to expect. Contact us today to schedule a free personalized consultation. Our trained professionals will listen to what you have to say and provide recommendations for possible next steps. We can even represent you in court if you choose.
Things may never go back to the way they were after a divorce has been granted. That’s okay. It can take some time to heal and move on. You may undergo an adjustment period as you gradually become accustomed to your new normal. After a few weeks or months have passed, you could even find yourself in a better situation than you’ve ever had before in your life.