The state of Maryland differentiates between an “absolute divorce” and a “limited divorce.” An absolute divorce ends the marriage and allows both parties to move on with their lives. A limited divorce–also known as legal separation–doesn’t end the marriage but allows both parties to live separately. Limited divorce might be the best option for people who aren’t quite ready to end their marriage.
What are the differences between absolute and limited divorce?
An absolute divorce is a “real” divorce. Both parties split up, divide up their properties, figure out child custody arrangements and move on with their lives. They can start dating again or remarry without worrying about legal consequences. If one or both parties changed their last name, they can ask the judge to reinstate their former name.
Conversely, a limited divorce allows both parties to separate without officially ending their marriage. A divorce attorney might recommend this option if both parties want to split up but aren’t financially, emotionally or legally prepared for divorce. In a limited divorce, both parties can live separately and make decisions about child custody and property use. However, they can’t remarry or date another person. If one of the spouses dates a third party, the other spouse could legally accuse them of adultery.
Should you file for a limited divorce?
An absolute divorce might be the best option if you and your spouse are ready to end your marriage and have your affairs in order. However, you might prefer a limited divorce if you want to split up but need some time to talk to an attorney and get your finances together. You might also prefer a limited divorce if you think that you and your spouse might be able to resolve your differences. Otherwise, you’d have to get remarried.