Final Divorce Without the 12-Month Separation? It’s Possible Now

Big changes have come to the mutual consent divorce laws in Maryland. A new law, which takes effect October 1, 2018, will allow parents of minor children to file for a mutual consent divorce without the previously mandated one-year separation.

Mutual consent divorce is not a brand-new concept in Maryland. In 2015, it became possible for couples without children to obtain an absolute (final) divorce without being separated for a year, as long as they had a written final separation agreement. The new rule makes it possible for couples with minor children to do the same.

The new rules will make it much simpler for couples to obtain a “no-fault” divorce, removing the lengthy and costly year-long separation process that previously forced both parties to maintain completely separate residences and finances, while remaining in the State of Maryland. Couples now have much more flexibility to come to a mutual agreement that is appropriate for their particular situation and takes the welfare of minor children into account.

To take advantage of the new law while filing for an absolute (final) divorce, the couple must file a written marital separation agreement that provides for the care, custody, access, and support of minor or dependent children. A completed child support guidelines worksheet must also be submitted to the court, and the court must be satisfied that the agreement is in the children’s best interest. The parties must also resolve, in writing, all issues of alimony, property division, and finances. There must be no objection to the agreement from either spouse.

Another new law aims to simplify the process even further: The filing party may proceed with an uncontested mutual consent filing, while the responding party is no longer required to appear at the final divorce hearing.

Of course, under Maryland law, there are still many avenues to pursue a divorce even without the agreement of both parties, especially if factors such as adultery or cruelty come into play.

While a mutual consent arrangement will go a long way to removing burdensome complications, it highlights the need for careful planning and advocacy for both parties from the very beginning of the process, so that an arrangement can be reached that both parties can agree upon that will provide the most possible benefit to all concerned, including any minor children. An ironclad separation agreement will help make the process much smoother in the long run for all concerned.

Whatever type of divorce is being contemplated, both parties need skillful legal representation. The divorce attorneys at Lusk Law, LLC are experienced in Maryland family law and can help protect your varied property interests while helping ensure that any outcome is the best possible one for you and your children’s happiness and health.

If you’d like to speak to our team about family law-related issues, we encourage you to contact us today for a consultation. You can reach us online or by phone at (443) 535-9715.

Maryland Association of Paralegals

On September 18, 2018, Lusk Law’s paralegal, Anne Wolf, was a featured presenter at the Maryland Association of Paralegal’s MAP U#5, held at the Community College for Baltimore County.…