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What types of divorce are available in the state of Maryland?

As of this writing, there are only two kinds of divorce in Maryland: limited divorce and absolute divorce. Each type has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. The option that you select will depend on your own situation and individual needs.

What is a limited divorce?

A limited divorce is a form of legal separation, even though the state of Maryland doesn’t officially recognize legal separation currently. This kind of divorce may only last for a few weeks or months. Couples can still get back together after the limited divorce has expired.

Why would someone seek a limited divorce?

Partners who need some time away from another or need to figure out alimony, child support and other important matters before filing for an absolute divorce may want to think about getting a limited divorce. To file for a limited divorce, the person making the complaint (also known as the plaintiff) must be able to prove that one or more of the following acts occurred:

  • Desertion.
  • Voluntary separation.
  • Conduct against the plaintiff or any of their minor children that was excessively vicious.
  • Cruelty committed by the person that the complaint was made against (also referred to as the defendant) toward the plaintiff or one or more of their minor children.

These actions will usually be the grounds (or reasons) that explain why the limited divorce is being sought. If cruelty or vicious conduct is used as the grounds for divorce, a history of such behavior must be proven. A single incident may not necessarily be enough to convince a judge to allow the divorce, unless the act in question was viewed as being enough to have reasonably put the victim at risk for bodily harm or allowed them to think that the defendant planned on seriously harming them.

What are some of the benefits of a limited divorce?

A limited divorce may be less expensive than an absolute divorce. One party may move out of the marital home temporarily if they so choose, but in many cases a judge will not make that a requirement. Spouses may remain in the same home during a limited divorce.

How can I request a limited divorce?

If the divorce grounds happened in the state, at least one party must live in Maryland at the time that the divorce is filed. If the grounds occurred outside of Maryland, one or both parties must have lived in the state of Maryland for at least six months before filing the complaint. You’ll need to visit the circuit court in your county to get the process started.

Ask for a Complaint for Limited Divorce (CC-DR-021). The defendant may opt to file a Counter-Claim for Limited Divorce (CC-DR-111). The complaint can be included with your marital settlement agreement, financial records, a Civil Domestic Information Report (CC-DCM-001) and any other relevant paperwork.

Each party should have a copy of these documents. The defendant will be served with a copy of the divorce complaint. A member of local law enforcement may serve them with those papers. The plaintiff must also provide the court proof that the defendant was served with the complaint. They can fill out the Certificate of Service portion of the complaint form to confirm that the supplemental documents were also mailed to the other party. Defendants currently living in Maryland have 30 days to reply to the complaint. That time is extended to 60 days for defendants living in another state and 90 days for defendants who live in another country.

How long does it take to get a limited divorce?

Every divorce differs in terms of how much time is needed before the divorce request will be granted. Some cases are settled in a matter of days, while others could be drawn out for several weeks or months. Having a marital settlement agreement in hand can speed up the process in many instances.

Things can take considerably longer if the defendant contests the divorce request or files a counterclaim. It may take more time for evidence, testimony, and witnesses to be presented. The judge will review all information carefully before determining whether to grant the limited divorce request.

How long are limited divorces valid for?

Most limited divorces are valid for up to six months on average. A judge could decide to extend the divorce for another six months if necessary. Some limited divorces are over in a matter of months. The specific situation and reasons why the limited divorce were requested may determine the length of time of a limited divorce’s validity.

Can I get remarried after a limited divorce?

Couples are still technically married to each other during a limited divorce. They are not allowed to remarry until after an absolute divorce has been granted. Partners may even continue to share the same home while the limited divorce is in effect.

Does a limited divorce end a marriage?

A limited divorce doesn’t end a marital union. That can only be accomplished in the state of Maryland through an absolute divorce. A limited divorce is a form of temporary legal separation, even though Maryland doesn’t technically recognize legal separation at this time.

Do I need to have a marital settlement agreement before asking for a limited divorce?

Although having a marital settlement agreement in place ahead of time can be helpful, it isn’t mandatory for a limited divorce. Limited divorces are often granted to allow couples to decide child visitation schedules, child support, property division and alimony before asking for an absolute divorce. If both parties have completed a marital separation agreement, they should each retain a copy of that information. A copy of the agreement should also be made available to the judge who is presiding over the divorce case.

It’s okay to have concerns about limited divorce. This option may or may not necessarily meet your needs. If you have questions, we have answers. Contact us today to schedule a no-obligation consultation. Our trained experts will sit down with you and listen to what you have to say. We’ll provide advice for possible next steps and even represent you in court if you want. Limited divorce can give you the time you need to start planning toward a better, brighter future for you and your loved ones.