Two types of divorces in Maryland
A limited divorce is not a divorce at all; instead, it’s a legal separation from bed and board – pending the outcome of the final divorce (called “Absolute Divorce” see below). In a Limited Divorce spouses can receive relief from the Court on only certain specific issues. These include: custody, child access, child support, exclusive use and possession of the family home, alimony, and attorney’s fees. It is important to know, that property issues are NOT resolved at this time (pensions, 401ks, house, etc.).
- There are a few grounds or reasons that a Court can grant a Limited Divorce.
- No-Fault: A voluntary separation for less than one year is the only no-fault ground (this is the most frequently used ground/reason)
- Fault: (1) extreme cruelty of treatment to the spouse or child, (2) excessively vicious conduct to the spouse of minor children, or (3) desertion that has occurred for less than 12 months.
An absolute divorce is a real divorce and all issues (incl. property issues) will be addressed as a final determination of all your rights attendant to your marriage: custody, child access, child support, exclusive use and possession of the family home, alimony, attorney’s fees, monetary award, determination of marital vs. non-marital property and disposition of all marital property (money, pensions, IRA, personal property, cars, boats, etc.) and real property (house, vacation home, timeshare, land, etc.).
You must prove the elements of one of the enumerated grounds or reasons for an Absolute Divorce before the Court can grant you an absolute divorce. Those grounds can be organized as fault grounds and no-fault grounds.
- No-Fault Grounds:
- One Year Mutual and Voluntary Separation
- Two Year Separation
- Fault Grounds:
- Extreme Cruelty of treatment to the spouse or child;
- Excessively vicious conduct to the spouse of minor children;
- Desertion that has occurred for more than 12 months
- Insanity (with confinement in mental institution for 3+ years)
- Incarceration (with confinement for 1+ year on a 3+ year sentence)