Is the State of Maryland a No-Fault State for Divorces?
By Jimmy Verner
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State laws normally include several grounds for divorce. Among the common grounds for divorce are adultery, cruelty, abandonment and desertion. Maryland recognizes these grounds for divorce, but in 2011 added a no-fault ground: a one-year separation between the spouses. This means that the spouses must have separate residences for at least one year and must not have sexual relations during that time.
Mutual and Voluntary Not Required
Before Maryland amended the one-year-of-separation ground for divorce, the separation had to be both mutual and voluntary. In other words, both spouses had to agree to the separation -- and both spouses had to agree voluntarily. Thus, even when the spouses lived apart from each other and had no sexual relations for a year, one of the spouses could block the divorce by claiming that he did not agree to the separation and did not separate voluntarily. Now, a mere separation, without regard to the spouses' intents, makes true no-fault divorce possible in Maryland.
Jimmy Verner, a lawyer since 1979, is Board-certified in family law and in civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Verner practices family law in Dallas.