Historically, when a couple wanted to get divorced, one partner would have to prove that the other partner was at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. Someone would have to commit adultery, abandon the other, become incarcerated, no longer be physically able to have intercourse, or be abusive in order for a divorce to be granted.
No fault divorce changed that and allowed couples to file irreconcilable differences or similar terminology for the reason the divorce needs to occur. No fault divorces are used widely, and the large majority of divorces in Maryland are granted on a no fault basis.
In Maryland, there are two grounds for a no fault absolute divorce:
- 12-Month Separation: Parties must live apart and maintain separate residences for at least 12 months prior to filing for divorce. If the couple spends even one night together during the 12-month period, the “separation clock” may have to be reset. Prior to the introduction of Mutual Consent in 2015 (see below), a 12-month separation was the only grounds for a no-fault divorce in Maryland.
- Mutual Consent: In October 2015, the State of Maryland revised its laws to include a new grounds for divorce: “Mutual Consent”. A divorce by mutual consent has no “waiting period” or separation requirement, encourages couples to work out the terms of their divorce by written Agreement, and rewards them with a prompt – and relatively inexpensive – absolute divorce.
A Columbia, Maryland family law attorney can provide more information about no fault divorces.