Potomac Divorce Lawyers
Most people who end up marrying do not envision the day that their partner will be seeking a divorce, so it often comes as a surprise to many people when their spouses ask for divorce and there can be considerable confusion about what the next steps should be. All people who are preparing to go through a divorce in Maryland will want to be working with our experienced Potomac divorce lawyers to help achieve the most favorable resolutions to areas of dispute in their cases.
Divorce cases are rarely straightforward, as there can often be numerous types of complicating factors to many situations. People will want to be sure they have legal representation before they appear in court for any divorce case.
Types of Divorce Cases
As the Maryland Courts website notes, the state of Maryland has two kinds of divorce.
An absolute divorce in Maryland may be based on either fault grounds or no-fault grounds. Proving fault usually means a spouse has to prove the other spouse engaged in some type of fault ground while a no-fault ground will not require any proof of misconduct.
Fault grounds can be important because certain fault grounds can impact alimony decisions, and certain grounds of fault that endanger children could impact child custody decisions. An absolute divorce will legally end a marriage, and both parties can legally remarry after a decree of absolute divorce is entered.
Limited divorces do not legally end marriages but they allow separations to be supervised by courts. People can seek limited divorces when there are no grounds for an absolute divorce, one party needs financial relief, or the parties cannot settle their differences privately.
There can also be temporary decisions about child custody, child support, alimony, health insurance coverage, and division and use of personal and real property in a limited divorce. Both parties may live apart but will remain legally married and neither spouse can remarry.
If spouses have sexual relations with each other after they physically separate, it will restart the time requirements for them to receive an absolute divorce based on the alleged ground of separation, and any sexual relations between one spouse and a third person during a limited divorce is considered adultery.
Grounds for Divorce
Grounds for divorce are the regulations that specify circumstances under which people can be granted a divorce. For a divorce in Maryland, one spouse must allege a legal ground for the divorce. Limited divorces and absolute divorces have different legal grounds.
Obtaining a fault-based divorce means a person must prove in court that the other spouse behaved in a certain way. If people cannot prove fault-based grounds for a divorce, they may still be eligible to file for divorce based on a no-fault ground such as a certain period of separation or even mutual consent.
A person who is filing for a no-fault divorce does not have to prove that their spouse committed misconduct. Fault grounds will be critical in many cases because they could affect alimony or property division decisions and can also affect child custody when the conduct involves alleged harm to a child.
Adultery is a fault-based ground for divorce that has no waiting period. When one party claims and proves a spouse committed adultery, the court can grant the divorce immediately.
A person does not have to prove actual intercourse occurred to prove adultery, as a person only needs to demonstrate that a spouse had both the disposition and opportunity for intercourse outside of the marriage. An adulterous disposition may be a public display of affection (PDA) at the Glenstone Museum, Billy Goat Trail, or Olmsted Island, while an adulterous opportunity could involve a spouse having been seen entering the home of a non-spouse on one evening and not emerging until the following morning.
When it comes to desertion, this fault-based ground could be actual or constructive. Actual desertion involves a deserting spouse abandoning a marital home without justification, while constructive desertion is when a spouse leaves for justifiable reasons and it is possible that a court may consider a leaving spouse to be the deserted one.
Proving actual desertion will require a spouse to demonstrate that desertion continued uninterrupted for 12 months, a deserting spouse was intending to end a marriage, cohabitation ended, a deserter’s leaving was not justified, the parties are beyond any reasonable hope of reconciliation, and a deserted spouse did not consent to be deserted.
Constructive desertion will require proof of all of the same elements, but a court can also consider justifications for constructive desertion like cruelty or the nature and duration of misconduct, the length of time a leaving spouse endured misconduct, and what attempts a leaving spouse made to try to save a marriage.
Cruel treatment of a spouse is a fault-based ground in which alleged conduct endangers the life or health of another person or their minor child and makes cohabitation unsafe. Single acts of cruelty can be grounds for divorce when a party intends to cause serious bodily harm or their conduct was severe enough to threaten serious danger in the future.
Cruelty as a ground for divorce can also include mental abuse. There is no waiting period for cruel treatment, meaning parties are able to immediately file for divorce when based on cruelty of treatment or excessively vicious conduct.
Obtaining a divorce for criminal convictions will involve spouses proving that their spouses were convicted of crimes in any state, received a jail sentence of more than three years, and served 12 months at the time of filing for divorce.
When the grounds for divorce are insanity, the following must be proven:
- Spouse is considered permanently incurable when they have been confined in a mental institution, hospital, or other institution for at least three years prior to filing for the divorce
- At least two physicians competent in psychiatry testify that the insanity is permanently incurable and there is no hope of recovery
- One of the parties has been a resident of Maryland for at least 6 months before filing for divorce.
Contact Our Potomac Divorce Lawyers
Are you preparing to go through a divorce in the greater Potomac area and are now dealing with multiple issues that are only creating confusion about your rights in your case? You should be sure you contact Shah & Kishore as soon as possible so you can sit down with somebody who can take the time to hear all the details of your case and advise you on the best steps you can take in your particular situation.
Our law firm is based in Rockville but serves clients in communities throughout the Potomac area, such as Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Silver Spring, Montgomery Village, Burtonsville, and Olney. Call (301) 315-0001 or contact our Potomac divorce lawyers to take advantage of a free consultation.