Maryland Divorce Laws

Grounds for Absolute Divorce

Family Law Article §7–103.

(a)   The court may decree an absolute divorce on the following grounds:

(1)   adultery;

(2)   desertion, if:

(i)   the desertion has continued for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce;

(ii)   the desertion is deliberate and final; and

(iii)   there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;

(3)   conviction of a felony or misdemeanor in any state or in any court of the United States if before the filing of the application for divorce the defendant has:

(i)   been sentenced to serve at least 3 years or an indeterminate sentence in a penal institution; and

(ii)   served 12 months of the sentence;

(4)   12–month separation, when the parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce;

(5)   insanity if:

(i)   the insane spouse has been confined in a mental institution, hospital, or other similar institution for at least 3 years before the filing of the application for divorce;

(ii)   the court determines from the testimony of at least 2 physicians who are competent in psychiatry that the insanity is incurable and there is no hope of recovery; and

(iii)   1 of the parties has been a resident of this State for at least 2 years before the filing of the application for divorce;

(6)   cruelty of treatment toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;

(7)   excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation; or

(8)   mutual consent, if:

(i)   the parties do not have any minor children in common;

(ii)   the parties execute and submit to the court a written settlement agreement signed by both parties that resolves all issues relating to:

  1. alimony; and
  2. the distribution of property, including the relief provided in §§ 8–205 and 8–208 of this article;

(iii)   neither party files a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing required under the Maryland Rules; and

(iv)   both parties appear before the court at the absolute divorce hearing.

Name Change

Family Law Article §7–105.

In granting a decree of absolute divorce, the court shall change the name of a party to either the name given the party at birth or any other former name the party wishes to use if:

(1)   the party took a new name on marriage and no longer wishes to use it;

(2)   the party asks for the change of name; and

(3)   the purpose of the party is not illegal, fraudulent, or immoral.

Marital Property

Family Law Article §8–201.

(e)    (1)   “Marital property” means the property, however titled, acquired by 1 or both parties during the marriage.

(2)   “Marital property” includes any interest in real property held by the parties as tenants by the entirety unless the real property is excluded by valid agreement.

(3)   Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, “marital property” does not include property:

(i)   acquired before the marriage;

(ii)   acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party;

(iii)   excluded by valid agreement; or

(iv)   directly traceable to any of these sources.

Marital Award

Family Law Article §8–205.

(a)    (1)   Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, after the court determines which property is marital property, and the value of the marital property, the court may transfer ownership of an interest in property described in paragraph (2) of this subsection, grant a monetary award, or both, as an adjustment of the equities and rights of the parties concerning marital property, whether or not alimony is awarded.

(2)   The court may transfer ownership of an interest in:

(i)   a pension, retirement, profit sharing, or deferred compensation plan, from one party to either or both parties;

(ii)   subject to the consent of any lienholders, family use personal property, from one or both parties to either or both parties; and

(iii)   subject to the terms of any lien, real property jointly owned by the parties and used as the principal residence of the parties when they lived together, by:

  1. ordering the transfer of ownership of the real property or any interest of one of the parties in the real property to the other party if the party to whom the real property is transferred obtains the release of the other party from any lien against the real property;
  2. authorizing one party to purchase the interest of the other party in the real property, in accordance with the terms and conditions ordered by the court; or
  3. both.

(b)   The court shall determine the amount and the method of payment of a monetary award, or the terms of the transfer of the interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, or both, after considering each of the following factors:

(1)   the contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;

(2)   the value of all property interests of each party;

(3)   the economic circumstances of each party at the time the award is to be made;

(4)   the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;

(5)   the duration of the marriage;

(6)   the age of each party;

(7)   the physical and mental condition of each party;

(8)   how and when specific marital property or interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, was acquired, including the effort expended by each party in accumulating the marital property or the interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, or both;

(9)   the contribution by either party of property described in § 8-201(e)(3) of this subtitle to the acquisition of real property held by the parties as tenants by the entirety;

(10)   any award of alimony and any award or other provision that the court has made with respect to family use personal property or the family home; and

(11)   any other factor that the court considers necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award or transfer of an interest in property described in subsection (a)(2) of this section, or both.

(c)   The court may reduce to a judgment any monetary award made under this section, to the extent that any part of the award is due and owing.

Alimony

Family Law Article § 11-106.

  • 11–106.

(a)    (1)   The court shall determine the amount of and the period for an award of alimony.

(2)   The court may award alimony for a period beginning from the filing of the pleading that requests alimony.

(3)   At the conclusion of the period of the award of alimony, no further alimony shall accrue.

(b)   In making the determination, the court shall consider all the factors necessary for a fair and equitable award, including:

(1)   the ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting;

(2)   the time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to find suitable employment;

(3)   the standard of living that the parties established during their marriage;

(4)   the duration of the marriage;

(5)   the contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;

(6)   the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties;

(7)   the age of each party;

(8)   the physical and mental condition of each party;

(9)   the ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet that party’s needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony;

(10)   any agreement between the parties;

(11)   the financial needs and financial resources of each party, including:

(i)   all income and assets, including property that does not produce income;

(ii)   any award made under §§ 8-205 and 8-208 of this article;

(iii)   the nature and amount of the financial obligations of each party; and

(iv)   the right of each party to receive retirement benefits; and

(12)   whether the award would cause a spouse who is a resident of a related institution as defined in § 19-301 of the Health – General Article and from whom alimony is sought to become eligible for medical assistance earlier than would otherwise occur.

(c)   The court may award alimony for an indefinite period, if the court finds that:

(1)   due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability, the party seeking alimony cannot reasonably be expected to make substantial progress toward becoming self-supporting; or

(2)   even after the party seeking alimony will have made as much progress toward becoming self-supporting as can reasonably be expected, the respective standards of living of the parties will be unconscionably disparate.