Mutual Consent Under A New Maryland Law: Separation and Divorce

“Under Maryland Law, I have to be separated for one year before I can get divorced.”: A Common Misconception

Divorcing has become more accessible and obtainable to families over the past several years as Maryland has passed new laws. Prior to October 1, 2015, married couples had to wait until they were separated for one (1) year in order to get a divorce if they were not alleging a “fault-based ground”, such as adultery, constructive desertion, actual desertion, insanity, conviction of three (3) years and served at least twelve (12) months, cruelty of treatment, and excessively vicious conduct.  On October 1, 2015, Maryland’s law changed to allow another no-fault ground for absolute divorce: mutual consent. 

At that time, the ground of Mutual Consent allowed a couple to get an absolute divorce without being separated for one year if they met the following requirements: 

  • The parties do not have any minor children together
  • The parties enter into an agreement on the issues of alimony and property
  • Neither party files a pleading to set aside the agreement prior to the divorce hearing 
  • Both parties appear before the court at the absolute divorce hearing. 

As of October 1, 2018, the law expanded mutual consent to couples who have children together. This new change comes with the following conditions: 

  • The parties must come to an agreement on: 
    • Alimony 
    • Property Distribution
    • The care, custody, access, and support of the minor children
  • If the agreement provides for any payment of child support, the parties must attach to the agreement a completed child support guidelines worksheet 
  • Neither party filed a pleading to set aside the agreement prior to the divorce hearing
  • The court must be satisfied that the terms of the agreement relating to the minor children are in the children’s best interest 

If all conditions are met, only the party that brings the divorce action is now required to attend the hearing making it easier to schedule and obtain an absolute divorce. This is good news for couples that can come to an agreement on all issues related to the end of their marriage.  This new change allows these couples to move forward and obtain closure faster. For further information concerning Mutual Consent contact Family Legal Advocacy Group (FLAG) at 410-884-0400 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys and see if you can take advantage of this recent change to Maryland law.