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What is a no-fault divorce?

A no fault divorce can be requested by one or both spouses. Neither of them are required to list a particular reason (or fault) as to why they want a divorce. No fault divorces are absolute. Once the divorce has been granted, the marriage will be effectively terminated. Couples cannot decide to change their mind later. However, they may opt to remarry at some point in the future.

What is mutual consent?

Mutual consent is one of the most common reasons why people ask for a no-fault divorce. In this situation, both parties agree (or consent) to getting divorced. No waiting period is required for a mutual consent no fault divorce. Partners can be living in the same house and ask for this type of divorce if they want.

You’ll need a few things prior to requesting a mutual consent no fault divorce. They are as follows:

  1. A child support guidelines worksheet if you have children together. This worksheet should be completed and include a child visitation schedule. It should also clearly state who will be responsible for paying child support if required, according to the marital settlement agreement.
  2. A marital settlement agreement. This agreement should specify child support, the division of marital assets (real estate, vehicles, personal property, etc.) childcare, child access and alimony (if necessary).

Both parties should agree to the above arrangements before the divorce proceedings begin. The judge will evaluate this information to determine if the agreements are in the best interests of any affected children and to ensure that one spouse does not have an unfair advantage over the other.

What is the residency requirement for a no-fault divorce?

One of the spouses must be a resident of the state of Maryland at the time of the request. Both parties can live in Maryland if they so choose. If the particular reason or grounds for divorce happened in Maryland, then the person asking for the divorce is the only person who needs to be a current Maryland resident. If the grounds happened outside of Maryland, one or both parties must have been living in the state of Maryland for at least 6 months before the divorce request was made.

What do I need to prove for a no-fault divorce?

You’ll need to verify that you and your former partner have either been voluntarily separated for at least 12 consecutive months or involuntarily separated for a minimum of 2 years. Each person will need to live in a separate residence. They are not allowed to engage in sexual intimacy with one another during that time.

How long do I need to wait before asking for a no-fault divorce?

If a couple wants to file for an absolute no-fault divorce, they will be required to have been separated from one another for at least a year before making that request. There cannot be any interruptions during that time. Partners are not allowed to live with or engage in sexual conduct with one another before asking for a divorce.

Will my divorce request be approved?

The judge presiding over the case will use all information that is presented in making a decision. Some judges have been known to rule in favor of the plaintiff if the defendant does not appear for the proceedings or has no issues with the information that is presented by the plaintiff’s side. A judge may be more likely to grant a divorce if both parties have mutually consented to seek a divorce and have no objections to the testimony that the other side has presented in court.

Do I need to get divorced if I’m separated from my spouse?

Divorce is not mandatory if you and your spouse are currently separated. You may want to seek a legal separation or an annulment of the marriage if you prefer. Each of these alternatives has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.

Legal separation is not currently recognized in the state of Maryland as of this writing. You may separate from your partner by living somewhere else. If both people live in different homes and do not engage in sexual conduct with one another for an extended period, they may be considered to be separated. Separation may be used as a ground for divorce later.

Annulment is requested when there are reasons for one or both parties to believe that the marriage never should have existed in the first place. There may have been reasons why the marriage may be invalid. Some of the typical grounds for annulments are:

  • One spouse was already married to someone else at the time.
  • A person was under duress or coerced to marry the other. The coercion in question must have existed at the time of the marriage ceremony.
  • At least one person in the marriage was not mentally able to understand or enter into a marriage.
  • The parties are related to each other on greater than a first cousin basis.
  • A person was defrauded by the other in efforts to get married to one another. The fraud must be directly related to the marriage. If fraud was detected, the person who was conned cannot keep living with the other person after the fraud was identified. Continuing to live with that person after that detection will effectively waive the fraud ground.
  • At least one spouse is under 18 years old. Exceptions to this rule are if the underage person had parental consent, is pregnant and 15 years old or if parental consent was granted to the underage person who is 16 or 17 years old.

Divorce is very complex and it’s perfectly normal to have doubts and concerns. If you have questions, we can help. Contact us today to set up a free consultation. Our trained professionals will listen to what you have to say and provide advice as to your next steps. We can even represent you during divorce proceedings if you wish. Our primary goal is to help you get back on track. It may take time, but you’ll eventually be able to enjoy life again before you know it.