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Divorce Laws in Maryland

Maryland allows fault and no fault divorce. The state favors rehabilitative spousal support, but will grant permanent support if there is a large discrepancy between what each spouse is capable of earning.

Common law marriage does not exist in Maryland, but the Maryland courts will recognize common law marriages that were established in other states.

Residency and jurisdiction
If the cause of the divorce occurred within the State of Maryland, then at least one spouse must currently live in Maryland and divorce can be filed in the county where either spouse lives. If the cause of divorce occurred outside of Maryland, then at least one spouse must have lived in the State for at least one year. If you are filing on insanity grounds one spouse must live in Maryland for at least two years before filing.

Fault or no fault and grounds for divorce
Maryland allows fault and no fault divorce. Acceptable grounds for divorce are:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion for one year
  • Separation for one year
  • Conviction of a crime with a sentence of at least three years, after one year of the sentence has been served
  • Insanity with at least three years of confinement to a mental institution before filing
  • Cruelty to spouse or minor child
  • Excessively vicious conduct toward spouse or minor child

Division of property
Maryland is an "equitable distribution" State meaning the property is not divided 50/50 but rather in a manner that the court deems fair to both parties. Retirement benefits are considered part of marital property in Maryland. When dividing property the court must consider:

  • Length of marriage
  • Contributions to the well-being of the family
  • Economic circumstances of each spouse
  • Reason for the divorce
  • Age
  • Physical and mental health
  • How the property was acquired and efforts contributed by each spouse in acquiring the property
  • Spousal support

Spousal support
In Maryland, spousal support can be permanent or rehabilitative. Permanent support is awarded if the receiving spouse is disabled and cannot become self supportive or if there is an unreasonable difference in the potential earning capacities of the spouses. The court will consider many factors including:

  • Length of marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Contributions to the well-being of the family
  • Ability of spouse seeking support to be self supporting
  • Ability of spouse from whom support is sought to pay support and remain self supporting
  • Cause of divorce
  • Age
  • Health
  • Prenuptial or other agreement between the couple
  • Time needed for spouse seeking support to become self supporting
  • If the spouse from whom support is sought is institutionalized, whether support payments will cause that spouse to be eligible for medical assistance earlier than if he or she did not have to pay support

Child custody and support
Maryland law does not specify factors which must be considered in determining child custody. Factors which Maryland courts normally take into consideration include:

  • Age and health of the parents
  • Wishes of the child
  • Roles parents have played in the child’s life

Maryland uses the Income Shares Model for calculating child support, and will also take into consideration:

  • Property division
  • College education expense
  • Allocation of the family home
  • Other children supported by the parents

If you are considering or facing divorce in Maryland, contact an experienced divorce attorney today.

Click here to select from Maryland divorce lawyers in your area.

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Disclaimer: Divorce law information contained throughout this page is intended to generally inform you about divorce law in Maryland and introduce you to divorce lawyers throughout the U.S. The information regarding divorce and divorce law is not meant to be taken as legal advice. If you would like to speak with an experienced divorce attorney, click on the link to your state to find an experienced divorce lawyer in your area for an initial consultation.
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