Understanding Maryland’s New Divorce Law: What You Need to Know

The landscape of divorce law in Maryland has recently experienced significant changes. A new law, effective as of October 1, 2023, alters the grounds for divorce in the state, making it more streamlined and potentially less expensive for couples seeking to end their marriages.

Here's what you should know about these changes and how they might affect your situation.

What’s New in the Law?

Understanding the grounds for divorce is critical for anyone considering this life-altering decision. Recent changes in Maryland's divorce law represent a significant shift designed to modernize the process and adapt to the realities of contemporary relationships. These changes aim to make the process more straightforward and less burdensome for all parties involved.

Here are the grounds covered under the new law that you should be aware of:

  • Sixth-month separation: The required separation time has been reduced from 12 months to six months. The separation ground means that you and your spouse must live separately for six months before filing for divorce. In some instances, you may even live under the same roof while still being considered "separated," depending on the court's interpretation of "pursuing separate lives."
  • Mutual consent: No changes here from the previous law. You can file under mutual consent if you and your spouse agree about the divorce and all associated decisions—such as child custody, spousal support, and property division. Both parties must sign a marital settlement agreement detailing these terms.
  • Irreconcilable differences: This is an entirely new ground for divorce in Maryland. Essentially, irreconcilable differences are issues or disagreements so significant that they make it impossible for the marriage to continue. You don't need to be physically separated before filing under this category. What you must do is specify these differences in your divorce complaint.

If you're contemplating divorce or are in the midst of it, these updates could significantly impact how you approach your case.

Why These Changes Matter

One of the main reasons for these changes is to make the divorce process more efficient. The hope is that by simplifying the grounds for divorce, couples can resolve their cases more quickly, which could lead to less emotional and financial strain.

The new law applies to cases filed on or after October 1, 2023, and couples seeking a divorce must meet at least one of the new grounds.

Getting Help with Your Divorce

Navigating a divorce can be complicated, especially when the laws are changing. At Matthew Penick Law, serving Queen Anne’s County, we're committed to staying updated on these legal shifts. We offer a clear discussion of your legal options to help you through this challenging time.

To schedule a free consultation, please call (410) 618-0863 or submit an online form.