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A proposed bill would change grounds for divorce in Maryland

On Behalf of | Jan 27, 2022 | Legal Separation

Maryland couples who are looking to get divorced have to meet the requirements of state law, so it’s important to know what those requirements are. A new proposed bill would change the way divorce is handled in the state.

What is the bill?

The current law states that married couples seeking a divorce must have lived separately for at least one year before filing for divorce. They also must cite either separation of affection or lack of sexual intimacy as reasons behind the petition for divorce.

The new bill allows married couples to seek a divorce based on separation of affection or lack of sexual intimacy while still living under the same roof. The proposed bill benefits people who want to end their marriages but can’t afford to move out of the marital home.

What challenges exist with the proposed new law?

One of the potential challenges of the bill, addressed by a Republican state representative, is how couples would prove grounds of separation of affection or lack of sexual intimacy while still living in the same home. However, a case from the early 2000s was referred to during a hearing on the proposed bill. In that case, a couple was granted a legal separation while still living in the same house as the husband spent all his time in the basement away from his wife for several years. The new bill is considered to be an extension of that case.

There were other arguments to the proposed bill. A Democratic state representative brought up the scenario of one spouse being unable to perform sexually any longer based on an accident and pointed out that their spouse could file for divorce based on that.

Couples can still get a divorce in the state based on grounds of desertion, domestic abuse, infidelity, and insanity. One party being convicted of a crime and receiving at least a three-year prison sentence is grounds for divorce under state law. Couples can also mutually agree to a divorce, so the proposed law may not affect all couples heading toward divorce.

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