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Divorce Attorney in Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Divorce can be a painful and emotionally draining experience. As your advocate, the divorce attorney at Kathleen M. Kirchner Attorney At Law is here to help. With an office in Annapolis, Maryland, Kathleen represents divorcing individuals and couples throughout Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and surrounding counties, including Calvert, Howard, Prince George’s, and Queen Anne’s Counties.  

Kathleen helps clients navigate through the divorce process efficiently so they can transition to the next phase of their life with minimum stress and hassle. Reach out to request a free consultation with Kathleen and get answers to your questions.  

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Divorce in Maryland

Maryland recognizes two types of divorce:  

  1. an absolute divorce, which permanently dissolves and ends the marriage.  

  1. a limited divorce, which is commonly referred to as “legal separation,” does not terminate the marriage.  

Basically, if you want to dissolve your marriage and move on with your life, you should seek an absolute divorce. If you do not want to terminate your marriage, you can seek a limited divorce. In a limited divorce, the couple remains legally married even though they are living apart from each other.  

Nonetheless, when a limited divorce is granted, neither spouse can remarry or have sexual relations with other persons. Having sexual relations during a limited divorce is considered adultery under Maryland law.  

As a rule of thumb, couples seek a limited divorce for three reasons:  

  1. they cannot prove grounds for absolute divorce;  

  1. they need immediate financial relief; and 

  1. they cannot negotiate the terms of divorce amicably.  

Contrary to popular belief, couples are not required to obtain a limited divorce before they can be granted an absolute divorce. In fact, under certain circumstances, Maryland courts may grant a limited divorce when couples are seeking an absolute divorce (e.g., the petitioner cannot prove grounds for absolute divorce).  

Eligibility to File for Divorce in Maryland 

There are certain eligibility requirements a married couple must meet when seeking an absolute or limited divorce:  

  • Residency requirement. At least one of the spouses must be a resident of Maryland for no less than a year before filing a complaint for divorce. The only exceptions to this rule are if (a) the petitioner is seeking a divorce based on insanity or (b) the grounds for divorce occurred in Maryland. When seeking a divorce based on insanity, the petitioner must have resided in the state for no less than two years.  

  • Waiting period. Maryland sets forth a mandatory waiting period for most divorces. At least 12 months must pass between the date the offending act was committed or the parties separated voluntarily and the date of filing a complaint for an absolute divorce. The waiting period does not apply for cases where the divorce is sought on the grounds of adultery or cruelty and excessively vicious conduct.  

  • No hope of reconciliation. For most divorces in Maryland, the parties must allege that there is no hope for reconciliation between them.  

Under Maryland law, a divorce case officially begins once one spouse files a complaint for an absolute or limited divorce in the circuit court of the county where they reside. 

Grounds for Divorce in Maryland

Grounds for divorce are also known as reasons for divorce. Maryland law outlines the permissible grounds for an absolute and limited divorce. Courts can grant the divorce only if the divorce is sought on the grounds specified in the Maryland statutes.  

Generally, grounds for divorce are categorized into “fault” and “no-fault” grounds. As the name implies, a “fault” divorce means that one spouse has allegedly committed misconduct against the other spouse, while a “no-fault” divorce means that no misconduct is alleged.  

Grounds for an absolute divorce include: 

  • Adultery 

  • Insanity 

  • Incarceration 

  • Desertion 

  • Cruelty and excessively vicious conduct 

  • Mutual consent 

  • One-year separation 

Grounds for a limited divorce include: 

  • Cruelty and excessively vicious conduct 

  • Desertion 

  • Separation 

When one spouse is seeking an absolute divorce based on fault grounds (e.g., adultery), the other party may use one of the following defenses: 

  1. Condonation, which means claiming that the offended party forgave the offending party’s misconduct; or 

  1. Recrimination, which means claiming that the offender party also engaged in misconduct that gives grounds for a fault-based divorce.  

Determining whether or not you have grounds for divorce can be tricky, which is why you need to consult with an experienced divorce attorney in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.  

How Long Does a Divorce Take? 

There is a wide range of factors that come into play when determining how long a divorce can take. Generally, a divorce can range anywhere from 90 days to two years. The length of the divorce case depends on the reason(s) for divorce, the number of contested issues, the court’s caseload, the availability of judges, and other factors.   

Once an absolute divorce is granted, the court issues a divorce decree, which typically includes decisions regarding the distribution of assets, alimony, child custody and support, and others. A decree of limited divorce documents the date the couple is separated.  

Divorce Attorney Serving Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Divorce in Maryland is often a hostile and adversarial process. You will need to seek legal counsel from a divorce attorney in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, to get assistance in navigating the legal intricacies of divorce proceedings. Kathleen M. Kirchner Attorney At Law can listen to your concerns and help you through the divorce process. Call Kathleen to schedule a free consultation.