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What are the requirements for divorce in Maryland?

In Maryland, your marriage must meet certain requirements before you can get an absolute divorce. Although there are requirements for a limited divorce as well, only an absolute divorce will completely sever your marriage or allow you to remarry. To get an absolute divorce, your situation must include an appropriate residency, a recognized ground for divorce and the appropriate waiting period.


Typically, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of Maryland for at least a year to meet the residency requirement for divorce. Alternatively, you may file for divorce in Maryland if the grounds for your divorce happened in the state. If you are seeking divorce on the grounds of insanity, there is a greater residency requirement. In that situation you must have been a resident for at least two years.

Grounds for divorce

In addition to meeting the residency requirement, you must have at least one legal reason for getting a divorce, which is also called a ground for divorce. Maryland recognizes eight grounds for divorce, including the following:

  • Adultery is considered a fault ground for divorce when a spouse chooses to have sex with someone other than the person to whom he or she is married.
  • Desertion is when a spouse leaves the home for at least 12 months with or without a justified reason and is considered a fault ground for divorce.
  • Voluntary separation can be used as a ground for divorce when both spouses agree to separate and have lived in separate homes for at least 12 months.
  • Two-year separation requires the spouses to have lived in separate homes for at least two years, but unlike a voluntary separation, the spouses do not need to create a separation agreement.
  • Cruelty of treatment is a fault ground for divorce, which typically involves one spouse causing or threatening bodily harm to the other.
  • Excessively vicious conduct involves extreme acts of domestic violence committed against a spouse or a child and is a fault ground for divorce.
  • Conviction of a crime can be a ground for divorce when one spouse receives a jail sentence of over three years or an indeterminate sentence, but the incarcerated spouse must have served 12 months of the sentence before the other spouse can file for divorce.
  • Insanity can be a ground for divorce if one spouse has been confined to an institution for at least three years and at least two psychiatrists are willing to testify that the insanity is permanently incurable.

Waiting period

In most cases, a couple must wait at least 12 months after the offending act before filing for an absolute divorce. However, if the ground for divorce is adultery, cruelty of treatment or excessively vicious conduct, a divorce can be filed with no waiting period.

While the process of ending a marriage can be an emotional experience, it is sometimes the right decision. If you are contemplating divorce, it is important to understand what the requirements are, so you can make the best decisions for your situation.

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