To file a complaint for divorce, you have to have to cite a reason. These are known as as grounds for divorce in Maryland. They are listed in the Maryland Code.
The Code has both fault and no-fault grounds. Fault grounds, such as adultery, desertion and cruelty, are factors the court must consider in determing alimony and distribution of property.
You may have, and plead, multiple grounds for divorce. Or, like in the following case, the wife may plead one ground and the husband may plead another. Who gets to pick the grounds on which the divorce is ultimately granted if more than one applies?
Mary and Timothy Welsh married in 1961. Timothy had degrees in accounting and law and was licensed as a real estate agent. Mary took care of the house and their four children. They acquired a 22 acre property during the marriage.
Mary left Timothy in 1994 and filed for divorce based on adultery. Timothy counterclaimed for divorce after two years of separation.
The trial court said that Mary failed to prove adultery but Timothy conceded it at trial. Nonetheless, the trial court granted the divorce based on separation.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the decision, stating that:
It is ultimately up to the court, based on its fact finding, to declare the grounds for divorce. It is not reasonable that the court be obligated to grant the divorce on the grounds requested when the judge is more persuaded that it is more likely than not that other grounds for the divorce are more justified.
Welsh v. Welsh; 135 Md.App. 29 (1999)