Apr 12, 2016

What Are the Grounds for Absolute Divorce in Maryland?

Apr 12, 2016 - Family Law by |

Maryland Absolute Divorce: Grounds & Details

In order to file for Absolute Divorce in Maryland, you first need to meet the statutorily required grounds.  These most common grounds are Mutual Consent, twelve month separation, cruelty and abuse, adultery, and constructive desertion.

Mutual Consent Divorce in Maryland

Until October 1st, 2015, Parties needed to wait until they had been separated for 12 months to file for Absolute Divorce based on no fault grounds.  However, on October 1st, 2015, the state of Maryland passed the new mutual consent grounds, which allows parties to obtain an Absolute Divorce so long as they have no minor children in common, and they have an agreement that resolves all issues arising out of the marriage, including but not limited to alimony and division of marital property. Additionally, both parties must be present at the uncontested divorce hearing, and neither party may move to set aside the parties’ agreement.

Twelve Month Separation as a Grounds for Divorce

If the parties have minor children in common and/or an agreement has not been reached with regard to all issues arising out of the marriage, and neither party has grounds to file for Absolute Divorce based on fault grounds, the parties must wait twelve months to file for Absolute Divorce.  In the complaint for Absolute Divorce, the plaintiff must allege that the parties have lived separate and apart for more than twelve months, that the parties have not cohabitated or had sexual relations for twelve months, and that there is no hope for reconciliation.


Another ground for Absolute Divorce in Maryland is cruelty or abuse. Generally, this ground applies to physical abuse. The party asserting cruelty or abuse must allege the complaint for Absolute Divorce complaint that his or her spouse’s conduct was so cruel that it endangered one’s safety, health, and happiness, rendering continuation of the marital relationship impossible.  In order to prove cruelty grounds, you generally need a corroborating witness or documentary evidence, such as photographs or medical records.


If you have proof that your spouse may have committed adultery, you may be able to file for Absolute Divorce in Maryland immediately based on adultery grounds.  In order to prove adultery, you need only show that your spouse had the disposition and the opportunity to commit adultery.  Examples of an adulterous disposition include public displays of affection, including but not limited to kissing, hugging, and holding hands.  Example of an adulterous opportunity include but are not limited to establishing that your spouse has spent the night at his or her paramour’s home, establishing that your spouse spent the night in a hotel room with his or her paramour, or establishing that your spouse went on a trip with his or her paramour.  Generally, you will need a witness to corroborate these allegations.  You will also need to prove that your spouse’s actions caused the breakdown of the marriage and that you neither forgave nor condoned your spouse’s affair.

Constructive Desertion

In order to file for Absolute Divorce based on constructive desertion, you must allege in your Complaint that your spouse constructively abandoned and deserted you in that your spouse’s actions made the continuation of the marital relationship impossible if you are to preserve your health, safety, and self-respect; and that such desertion has continued uninterruptedly for more than twelve months up to and including the time of the filing of the Complaint.  Generally, you must also have not had sexual relations with your spouse during those twelve months.

Navigating the divorce process in Maryland can be difficult and complex. You should consult an experienced Maryland divorce attorney if you are involved in a divorce proceeding or contemplating filing for divorce.

If you have any questions on the grounds for filing Absolute Divorce in Maryland, call our office at 240.395.1418 for a free initial consultation.