Maryland Bill Seeks to Shorten Separation Periods

A bill to shorten the separation periods for the no fault grounds for absolute divorce in Maryland has been introduced by Senator Zirkin. Senate Bill 139 would amend Section 7-103(a)(3) and (4) of the Family Law Article by changing the separation period for a voluntary separation from 12 months to 6 months and the separation period for an involuntary separation from 2 years to 12 months. If passed, the law would take effect October 1, 2011. However, similar bills have been introduced in past years, and have been defeated by lawmakers who believe that marriage should be encouraged and divorce should not be easier to obtain. Having a longer waiting period discourages impulsive divorces and gives people time to change their minds or make up their minds that they really want a divorce. Under current Maryland law, you can still get divorced without any waiting period for the fault grounds of adultery or cruelty. You can also enter into a separation agreement. Both Virginia and DC permit a no-fault divorce after six months voluntary separation or one year involuntary separation. In Virginia and DC, the separation can be while living in the same house. Maryland courts have ruled each spouse must be live under a separate roof during the separation.

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