Category: Divorce & Family Law

October 11, 2023

UPDATE: Maryland Divorce Law Reform

Pasternak & Fidis

The Maryland Legislature has continued a process, begun several years ago, of modernizing Maryland divorce law. Amendments became effective October 1, 2023. The Code changes eliminated fault grounds of divorce, repealed limited divorce, and created another no-fault ground for absolute divorce.

Until the most recent Code revisions, a party filing for divorce could allege both fault grounds (adultery; desertion) and no-fault grounds (separation; mutual consent). One of the major changes is the elimination of fault grounds, bringing Maryland in line with the growing trend towards no-fault grounds as the exclusive basis for divorce. Parties can still allege fault as one of the factors in the determination of property division and spousal support.

With the recent Code amendments, Maryland now has three possible grounds for an absolute divorce. The newly created ground of irreconcilable differences acknowledges that the spouses can no longer find common ground and continue their relationship. This ground does not require that parties assign blame for the breakdown, only that the breakdown has occurred and that it is irreparable.

The Code has long provided for an absolute divorce on the ground of separation and required that the parties have lived separate and apart, in separate abodes, for 12 months. The 2023 amendments reduce that period to six months. Notably, couples living separate lives under the same roof can now qualify as separated. For many couples, the ability to remain under the same roof while living apart, and while they negotiate a settlement and decide what to do with the marital home, can facilitate settlement and reduce the economic burdens of divorce; it allows them to maintain one household until they are ready to establish separate homes.

Finally, parties may divorce by mutual consent. This option requires both spouses to agree to the divorce and to submit a written settlement agreement addressing property division, alimony, and child custody.

The 2023 Code amendments also eliminated the limited divorce option. An absolute divorce severs the bond of matrimony. A limited divorce allowed for parties to live apart permanently but did not entirely end the marriage, meaning neither could remarry unless they later got an absolute divorce.

These recent changes to Maryland’s divorce law, along with changes made over the past several years, are a continuation of a trend to modernize Maryland divorce.

April 21, 2023

Divorce, Pensions and Avoiding Pitfalls in Dividing Them

Vicki Viramontes-LaFree

A divorcing party may have acquired employer-sponsored retirement benefits during marriage. In most states, retirement benefits earned during marriage are marital property and can be divided at divorce. A court order is required to transfer a share of an employee’s retirement assets to the non-employee spouse. This article focuses on private sector and civilian federal […]

July 5, 2022

Postmarital Agreements in the DMV— Lessons from Recent Cases

Linda J. Ravdin

A postmarital agreement is a contract governing property and support rights between spouses who have no immediate intent to divorce; by contrast a separation agreement settles economic issues between spouses who expect to divorce. Some spouses may want to use a postmarital agreement to address property issues during an ongoing marriage. A postmarital agreement may […]

February 17, 2022

Treatment of Vermont Civil Union as a Marriage for Purposes of Divorce in Maryland

Pasternak & Fidis

In 2020, in a case called Sherman v. Rouse, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals had to decide whether a 2003 Vermont civil union, which pre-dated marriage equality, should be treated the same as a marriage for purposes of granting a divorce and related rights, including spousal support and equitable division of property. One aspect […]

October 7, 2021

COVID-19 and the Rise of Electronic Signatures

Pasternak & Fidis

Since early 2020, fewer face-to-face transactions have been possible because of mandatory social distancing. These restrictions changed the way lawyers and clients handled contracts and other business and personal transactions. The remote work environment reduced ink-to-paper signatures and increased the use of electronic signatures for contracts. Parties to a contract use the click of a […]

May 26, 2021

Lifestyle Analysis in Divorce

Vicki Viramontes-LaFree

In some divorces, the family law attorney may have concerns about an opposing spouse who is not forthcoming about income or the existence and value of assets.  In some cases, the attorney may need to use cash flow to establish the couple’s marital standard of living.  This article addresses these issues, highlighting a book by […]

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