Legal Separation in Maryland

In the state of Maryland, what most people commonly refer to as legal separation is known as limited divorce.  As your Montgomery County divorce attorney can explain, the grounds for a filing for a limited divorce are as follows:

  • Cruelty: Just as in the case of an absolute divorce, you can petition the court for a limited divorce (legal separation) if you can prove your spouse endangered you or you child on more than one occasion.  This can include endangering you or your child’s physical or mental wellbeing.  However, it should be noted that, while the Maryland Code Section 7-102 as interpreted by the courts generally requires repeat occasions of physical or mental cruelty, if there was only a single incident, but that incident was particularly violent, that may be enough to prove cruelty.
  • Actual Desertion: You can petition the court for a limited divorce if your spouse has left you and had the intention of ending the marriage.  You must also establish that you have not had sexual intercourse with your spouse or lived in the same house for even a single night during the entire time your spouse has been gone. It is also necessary to prove that you did not cause your spouse to desert you.  While it seems simple enough, things can get rather complicated during the legal process, and you should make sure to speak with a PG County divorce attorney who has experience filing for a limited divorce.
  • Constructive Divorce Much like when filing for a standard divorce in Howard County, you can also file for a limited divorce in Maryland if your spouse has constructively deserted you.  This is where your spouse has acted in such a way that has made it virtually impossible to live under the same roof with your spouse.  Again, there is the requirement that you have not slept with your spouse or moved back in, even for a single night. You must also establish there is no reasonable chance you will get back together with your spouse.
  • Voluntary Separation: Voluntary separation is an additional ground under which you can file for a limited divorce. You must prove you and your spouse agreed to live separate and apart for the reason of ending your marriage.  This, again, has the no sexual intercourse and living apart requirements of many of the other grounds.  However, unlike with an absolute divorce, you do not need to meet the one-year requirement.

If you are legally separated in Maryland, you can petition the court for child support, alimony, child custody, and visitation. You might want to file for a limited divorce if your religious beliefs prevent you from getting a divorce, or if you have not yet met all of the requirements for an absolute divorce.   You also should understand that you cannot get remarried until you have been granted a divorce absolute.

The family law attorneys at DiPietro & Wise, LLC have years of experience handling domestic relations cases in jurisdictions across Northern Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland. Contact us to schedule a consultation today at (301) 970-9286.

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