Major Changes in Maryland Divorce Laws Beginning October 1, 2023

Family Law has always been a significant practice area at the Ruben Law Firm. We make sure that we attend continuing education seminars and follow the legislature in Annapolis in order to make sure that we are always on top of new laws and information so that we can continue to provide superior representation to our family law clients.

2023 is going to be a year to remember with regard to Maryland divorce laws. In Maryland, anyone who wants to obtain a divorce has to first have "grounds" for divorce. The new law is ELIMINATING six grounds for divorce, including Adultery, Desertion, Criminal Convictions, 12 month separation, Insanity and Cruelty of Treatment or excessively vicious conduct towards a spouse and/or child. In other words, whereas a Maryland court could grant a divorce based on any of those grounds, it no longer has the ability to do so.

Instead, the new law, going into effect for all divorces filed AFTER October 1, 2023, authorizes a court to grant a divorce on the new grounds of 1) six-month separation, if the parties have lived separate and apart for six months without interruption before filing the divorce or 2) irreconciliable differences based on reasons stated by the person asking for the divorce. IMPORTANTLY, and signaling a HUGE change in Maryland law, the new law specifies that parties who have pursued separate lives may be deemed to have lived separate and apart for purposes of the grounds of six-month separation even if the parties reside under the same roof. In other words, WITHOUT PROVING FAULT, as long as you live "separate lives" for more than six months, you can file for and obtain a divorce. This is great news for divorced people who are in financially or physically abusive relationships and have no way out. Now they have a way out.

Although simplified in this article, the new laws are going to create a myriad of issues for both clients, attorneys and Judge's, some foreseeable and likely many that the legislators who wrote the law did not foresee. For that reason and many more, it is ALWAYS a good idea to reach out to an attorney before you take the law into your own hands or decide to represent yourself.

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