There is opposition today to Delegate Luiz Simmons’ move to modernize Maryland divorce law by adding a new ground for divorce. The new ground would permit parties living together to get divorced if they have not had sex for a year. Maryland’s no fault grounds, unlike Virginia and DC, require the parties to live under separate roofs for a year if they both agree or two years if they do not. Delegate Ben Kramer is co-sponsoring the legislation and Senator Robert Zirkin is introducing a version in the Senate.
But Derek McCoy, president of the Association of Maryland Families is opposed. “Lowering the divorce requirements — that’s a move in the wrong direction for the state. We need to make it more challenging for divorces to occur,” McCoy is quoted as saying by Hayley Petersen in today’s Washington Examiner.
Meanwhile, unhappy couples still living together can avail themselves of Maryland’s fault grounds to obtain a divorce. Cruelty, adultery and desertion for a year can occur while the parties are living together.
“The statutory term ‘desertion,’ as applied to husband and wife, means a cessation of the marital relation. And this doctrine is in accord with the general principles of the divorce law. We have seen that there may be a desertion although the parties live under the same roof. Desertion implies something more than merely ceasing to cohabit or live together; for, as applied to husband and wife, it means the ceasing to live together as husband and wife.” – Maryland Court of Appeals citing Divorce and Separation, by Nelson, in Fleegle v. Fleegle, 136 Md. 630, 634 (Md. 1920).