If you and your spouse are Maryland residents planning to divorce, you probably want to know everything you can about current divorce laws. You may think the year-long waiting period is still in force, but that is not entirely accurate. New laws have brought changes to the divorce procedure in our state.
Resolving the wait time
As of 2015, the year-long waiting period required prior to a divorce in Maryland is over for couples who do not have minor children. As long as the parties agree to the divorce itself and the terms of a property split, they will not have to wait. Those who do have minor children, however, still have to live separate and apart for a year before being eligible to file for divorce. That year-long waiting period begins as soon as one of the parties moves out of the marital residence. Going forward, if for any reason they should live together under the same roof, even for one night, they must backtrack to day one and begin the waiting period all over again.
Waiting period exceptions
Prior to 2015, Maryland law waived the waiting period if the relationship was abusive, or if adultery was involved in the decision to divorce. There were concerns that the new bill did not contain sufficient protections against one party exercising an advantage over the other. The result was an amendment enforcing the year-long waiting period for the parents of minor children, plus another amendment that requires both parties in an uncontested divorce to attend the court hearing.
Modernizing the law
Legislators point out that many of the existing requirements resulted from old common law in Maryland, and that the bills passed in 2015 would not be the last of the changes. For example, another law passed that year changed the Maryland residency requirements for divorcing couples from one year to six months. This may be of interest to you if you are contemplating divorce. Now would probably be a good time to explore your options and become familiar with the laws in our state.