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How Long Do You Have to Be Separated to Get a Divorce in Maryland?

If you are considering a divorce in Maryland, you might have heard that the state has a time requirement in place before you are allowed to file. However, this requirement only applies in certain situations. Understanding the different grounds for divorce will allow you to determine how long you must wait before a court grants your divorce.

Fault versus No-Fault Divorces in Maryland

Maryland recognizes various grounds under which residents may file for divorce. Some of these grounds assign fault to one of the spouses. These fault-based grounds include:

  • Your spouse has committed adultery as Maryland law defines the act
  • Your spouse has committed acts of cruel treatment and excessively vicious conduct, including abuse that threatens your physical well-being or that of a child
  • Your spouse has served at least one year of an overall prison sentence of three or more years
  • Your spouse has deserted you for at least a year or has engaged in behavior that has forced you to leave them with the intention of ending the marriage
  • Your spouse has received a diagnosis of incurable insanity and has been committed to a mental institution for three or more years

Upon meeting the above criteria, you may file for divorce immediately if you intend to file under one of these fault-based grounds.

However, in Maryland, a couple may file for divorce without assigning fault to either party. To qualify for a no-fault divorce, the couple must first maintain a period of separation.

Separation for a No-Fault Divorce

One of the grounds for a no-fault divorce in Maryland is that the couple must live separately from one another for a full year. This separation must occur with no interruption and without any sexual relations between the parties during that time.

Since 2018, however, Maryland has allowed couples to forgo the 12-month separation requirement and get a divorce by mutual consent if the following circumstances apply:

  • The spouses do not share any minor children
  • The spouses have signed a written agreement that resolves all alimony and property issues
  • At least one of the spouses has lived in Maryland for six months or more before filing for divorce
  • Neither party asks the Court to set the settlement agreement aside
  • At least one spouse testifies at a divorce hearing

If the spouses share minor children, they may still be able to forgo the separation requirement if they both sign a written statement that resolves all custody, access, and child support issues, and the child support is not below the state minimums. The court’s approval of the divorce will still require that a judge deems the settlement agreement to be in the children’s best interests.

Which Type of Divorce Should You Get?

If you would like to file for divorce and your spouse is unwilling to reach a settlement agreement with you, your only option for immediate dissolution of the marriage is to file under one of the fault-based grounds, if one applies to your situation. Speak to an experienced Maryland divorce attorney if you have questions about which route to take, which route applies to you, and the impact, if any, of the possible grounds available to you.

Contact The McKeon Law Firm Today

If you are considering a divorce in Maryland, the dedicated family lawyers at The McKeon Law Firm will provide you with the legal support you need. We understand how overwhelming the process of divorce can be. You are not alone. Our compassionate attorneys proudly help clients throughout Montgomery, Frederick, and Prince George’s Counties face the future with courage.

Call us today at (301) 417-9222 or contact us online for a consultation with a knowledgeable member of our legal team. We look forward to getting to work for you.


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