Maryland has two kinds of divorce: absolute divorce and limited divorce.
Absolute divorce is what most states simply call divorce or dissolution of marriage. It ends the marriage and the parties are free to go their separate ways (assuming there are no children).
Limited divorce is actually a legal separation. It allows for the couple to separate and creates a legal framework for support (either spousal support or child support) while keeping the couple legally married. This limited form of divorce only has four grounds: cruel treatment towards a spouse or child, excessively vicious conduct towards a spouse or child, actual or constructive desertion or separation.
Absolute divorce allows the same grounds and a few others, for a total of eight:
- One year separation
- Mutual consent
- Cruel treatment towards a spouse or child
- Excessively vicious conduct towards a spouse or child
Mutual consent is the “no-fault” option, making Maryland both a fault-based and a no-fault divorce state.
Maryland, therefore, has both fault and no-fault divorce and has both absolute and limited divorce.
How to File for Divorce in Maryland
Whether you need to have lived in Maryland before you can file for divorce in the state depends on your grounds for divorce. If the grounds for divorce occurred in Maryland, there is no residency requirement. If, on the other hand, the grounds occurred outside of Maryland, either you or your spouse must have lived in Maryland for 60 days before you can file.
Either way, you file a complaint for absolute divorce or a complaint for limited divorce at the county courthouse. If you’re seeking an uncontested divorce, this should be accompanied by a settlement agreement completed and signed by both you and your spouse.
You’ll have to file some other documents depending on your situation, but to find that information, Maryland’s courts have a very helpful site that can guide you.
Pay attention to the requirements for service on your spouse if you’re the one filing — the case could be dismissed if service isn’t proper.