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Common Questions on Maryland Divorce

In Maryland, what is the definition of Divorce?

Maryland has two types of Divorce: Limited and Absolute.

What is a Limited Divorce?

Limited Divorce is analogous to a legal separation. Issues of support and custody can be determined in an action for Limited Divorce, however, no property issues will be addressed. A Limited Divorce serves two functions: getting custody and support determined immediately and getting in line for an Absolute Divorce. When the grounds for an Absolute Divorce become “ripe”, it is customary to then amend pleadings and request a final divorce.

What are the grounds for a Limited Divorce?

The grounds for filing for a Limited Divorce are

  • cruelty of treatment,
  • excessively vicious conduct,
  • desertion, or
  • voluntary separation.

What is an Absolute Divorce?

An Absolute Divorce is a final divorce, whereby all marital issues are addressed, including property issues, and upon the receipt of the final divorce, each party is free to remarry.

What are the grounds for an Absolute Divorce?

he grounds for filing for an Absolute Divorce are

  • mutual agreement,
  • adultery,
  • desertion that has continued for at least 12 consecutive months,
  • separation for more than one year,
  • conviction of a felony or misdemeanor with a sentence of at least 3 years and the party has served 1 year,
  • insanity if the person has been institutionalized for more than 3 years,
  • cruelty of treatment, and
  • excessively vicious conduct.

Are irreconcilable differences grounds for divorce?


What is a legal separation?

Maryland does not recognize a “legal separation.” At the time of the divorce hearing, whether or not a couple is separated is a question of fact. The parties must live separate and apart without sexual relations with each other to be considered “separated.”

Is a no-fault divorce possible?

Yes, based on either a one-year separation or mutual agreement.

What evidence is needed to prove adultery?

Adultery can be proved by circumstantial evidence. If the adulterer refuses to answer questions relating to the adultery by invoking his 5th Amendment right against self- incrimination, the court may draw an adverse inference of adultery in the domestic case. Circumstantial evidence can also include evidence that the adulterer and paramour were inclined to commit adultery and were together at a time and place and under circumstances which provided them an opportunity to engage in sexual intercourse.

What acts constitute abandonment or desertion?

“Abandonment” and “desertion” are synonymous. When one party, without just cause, moves out of the residence of the parties with the intent to end the marriage, and basically “disappears” by not upholding any of his or her responsibilities.

What is constructive abandonment?

When one spouse’s conduct is such that they force the other spouse to leave the shared residence, because their behavior is such that it threatens the physical safety, physical health, or self-respect of the other spouse and/or minor children, and continuation of the marriage is impossible.

Is one act of violence grounds for divorce?

A single act of violence, in order to constitute cruelty, must indicate the intent of the offending spouse to do serious bodily harm or be of such nature as to threaten or place the victim in serious danger in the future.

Our team of experienced attorneys are available to discuss and help with your legal needs. Contact us online or call 301-888-6384 to arrange a consultation with one of our Rockville or Frederick divorce lawyers.

A Word from Past Clients

  • “Sylvia Borenstein & Laura Duncan of Fait & DiLima, LLP were incredibly knowledgeable and experienced at helping me sorting out and making a lot of important decisions for my life changing divorce. ...”

    - B.H.
  • “Sylvia Borenstein's Professionalism and knowledge of family law was very impressive. She thought of ways to help my sons that I never knew existed. Like establishing Trusts that are designed for ...”

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  • “Dorothy Fait successfully helped me through a highly contentious divorce, custody, and support case. Throughout the entire process, she was the perfect mixture of professionally skillful and also kind ...”

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  • “I had met several family law attorneys in the past through the Montgomery County Bar Association, and 2 years later when my (ex-)husband and I decided to get divorced, she was top of mind. Before ...”

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  • “Laura and Dorothy are very professional and knowledgeable. When I hired them I [had] been two years in the divorce process already. I was hopeless and then Laura [and Dorothy] put everything in order ...”

    - M.M.

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  • Dorothy R. Fait & Marjorie G. DiLima are Published Authors of Divorce In Maryland: The Legal Process, Your Rights, and What to Expect (2017)

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