Each state has established its own laws about legal separations and divorces. While all states authorize divorce, not all states allow for legal separations. So, where does Maryland stand on the subject of legal separations? Maryland does not have legal separations, though it does allow for the execution of separation agreements.
Two Types of Divorce in Maryland
In Maryland, there are two types of divorces: 1) limited divorces, which resolve some important issues but does not legally end a marriage, and 2) absolute divorces, which are traditional divorces.
If you intend to end your marriage, you can enter into a separation agreement, a legally-enforceable contract that addresses important issues while you’re waiting to obtain your divorce. Usually, once a couple drafts a separation agreement, it’s later incorporated as a part of their final divorce decree.
When a couple obtains a limited divorce, they cannot have sexual relations with other people (that would be adultery), and they cannot remarry. But, with a limited divorce, the divorced spouses can have sexual relations with other people and they are free to remarry if they choose.
If you want a limited divorce as you wait the 12 months to seek an absolute divorce, or because you have minor children or financial issues to address as you split up with your spouse, it’s wise to enter into a written contract.
If you are going to live apart so you can file for divorce, you can enter into a written agreement. In Maryland, this is called a separation agreement. If you later decide to file for divorce on the ground “voluntary separation,” the separation agreement is perfect evidence to seek an absolute divorce.
Maryland separation agreements provide for:
- Child custody;
- Child support;
- Alimony (spousal support):
- Provision for healthcare coverage; and
- The division of marital assets and debts while the spouses live apart, including what happens to the marital estate in the event of divorce.
To obtain an absolute divorce in Maryland on the grounds of a 12-month separation, it’s very important that the couple lives in separate households and does not have sexual relations. In these types of cases, the separation agreement is very helpful in proving the date of separation to the court.
To learn more about limited and absolute divorces in Maryland, contact the Law Office of Nicholas T. Exarhakis.