Maryland State Divorce Laws and Resources
U.S. Divorce Laws are enacted by each state using their respective legislative process. Once legislation is enacted into law, the divorce courts in Maryland have the authority to manage the divorce proceedings, including, spousal and child support payments, custodial rights of parents and the division of community property.
Since state laws are repealed and amended frequently, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before making any important decisions about your marriage. You can also visit the GotTrouble Divorce Resource for a more in-depth understanding of related divorce and family law topics.
As of 2016, all states allow for “no fault” divorce. Yet many courts still factor in the respective parties past behavior when determining the division of community property, debts, custody, support and related issues.
SAME-SEX DIVORCE –UPDATE:
On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the US Constitution in all 50 states. It follows, therefore, that the rights and obligations between same-sex divorcing parties are subject to the same dissolution laws of that state. Reference: US Supreme Court Opinion: Obergefell v. Hodges. (For more information visit ProCon.org).
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:
If the grounds for divorce occurred within the state, divorce may be filed in the county where either party resides. If the grounds for divorce occurred outside of the state, a person must be a resident for at least one year before they can file for a divorce in Maryland.
LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:
Divorce may be granted on the following grounds:
- Desertion for at least one year before filing;
- Voluntary separation for at least one year before filing;
- Conviction of a felony, when the defendant has been sentenced to at least three years in a penal institution, and has served at least one year of the conviction;
- Living separate and apart for at least 2 years;
- Cruelty or domestic violence against the petitioner or a minor child of the complaining partner.
A husband and wife may reach an enforceable agreement relating to alimony, support, property rights, or personal rights.
MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:
In a divorce involving children, the parents may be required to attend and educational seminar to educate parents about the effects of divorce on children.
Maryland is an equitable distribution state, meaning that if the spouses can’t reach an agreement, the court will divide the marital estate in an equitable, but not necessarily equal, fashion.
When determining the division of the marital estate, the court may take the following factors into consideration:
- The contributions of each party to the marital estate, both monetary and non-monetary;
- The value of all property of each party;
- The economic circumstances of each party;
- Misconduct that led to the estrangement of the parties;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and physical or mental condition of each of the parties;
- How the marital property was acquired;
- The amount of alimony awarded; and
- Tny other factors that the court deems relevant.
Alimony may be awarded to either spouse, with the court taking the following factors into consideration when determining a fair and equitable award
The ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;
- The time necessary to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment
- The duration and standard of living established during the marriage
- The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
- The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;
- The age and physical or mental condition of each party;
- The ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet his or her needs while paying alimony;
- The agreement between the parties; and
- The financial needs and financial resources of each party.
SPOUSE’S LEGAL NAME:
Either spouse may request to take back a former or maiden name after divorce.
CHILD CUSTODY – BEST INTESTS OF THE CHILD
A court may award custody of a minor child to either parent or joint custody to both parents, with neither parent being resumed to have any right to custody that is superior to the right of the other parent. If the court has reasonable grounds to believe that a child has been abused or neglected by a parent, and if the court believes that the conduct will continue, the court shall deny custody or visitation rights to that party, except that the court may approve a supervised visitation arrangement that assures the safety and the physiological, psychological, and emotional well-being of the child. A child who is 16 years old or older may file a petition to change custody.
CHILD SUPPORT LAWS OF MARYLAND:
The level of child support is based on the Income Shares model, meaning the both parent’s incomes is combined to determine the amount of support. The basic child support obligation is then divided between the parents in proportion to their adjusted actual incomes. The support guidelines may be deviated from due to the terms of any existing separation or property settlement agreements, or the presence in the household of either parent of other children to whom that parent owes a duty of support and the expenses for whom that parent is directly contributing.
Related Divorce Services And Resources
ENFORCING CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS – FEDERAL OPTION:
FIND LOCAL FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT AGENCY NEAR YOU