A bill to shorten the separation periods for the no fault grounds for absolute divorce in Maryland has been introduced by Senator Zirkin.

Senate Bill 139 would amend Section 7-103(a)(3) and (4) of the Family Law Article by changing the separation period for a voluntary separation from 12 months to 6 months and the separation period for an involuntary separation from 2 years to 12 months.  If passed, the law would take effect October 1, 2011.

However, similar bills have been introduced in past years, and have been defeated by lawmakers who believe that marriage should be encouraged and divorce should not be easier to obtain.  Having a longer waiting period discourages impulsive divorces and gives people time to change their minds or make up their minds that they really want a divorce.

Under current Maryland law, you can still get divorced without any waiting period for the fault grounds of adultery or cruelty. You can also enter into a separation agreement.

Both Virginia and DC permit a no-fault divorce after six months voluntary separation or one year involuntary separation.  In Virginia and DC, the separation can be while living in the same house.  Maryland courts have ruled each spouse must live under a separate roof during the separation.

6 replies
  1. eplawyer
    eplawyer says:

    Except how often do the parties reconcile once they decide to separate? Not often enough to warrant making everyone else wait an unduly long period of time. The one year waiting period just makes a difficult time more difficult without adding anything positive to the process.

  2. Lori WesternMD Stuck
    Lori WesternMD Stuck says:

    Not a lawyer or paralegal, but I’m affected by the one year wait law so I know it’s inconvenience more than anyone. Been married for 11 years, and 9 of those separated under the same roof (due to finances). Now, I’m out on my own in an uncontested separation and have to wait yet another year to be free, 6 months would be so much better. I think if you’re going to get back with someone it would happen within 3 months if not before. I have 1 1/2 months down, and hopefully October I’ll be able to move on.

  3. anglesmomMD
    anglesmomMD says:

    If this does get passed, does anyone know if the 6 month required separation would have to start after October 1st 2011 or could you be separated 6 months prior then file for divorce after October 1st?

  4. mrflipnmd
    mrflipnmd says:

    I talked with my attorney and said if it does get passed you could file on Oct 1, 2011 if you’ve been separated for 6 months prior. For me this woud save me about 2 months. I’ve been trying to research to see if it passed. I don’t think it looks good.

  5. affected
    affected says:

    I contacted the State assembly office today and was told that this bill has indeed passed, and will become law on October 1, 2011 if signed by the governor.

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