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Limited versus absolute divorces in Maryland

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2023 | Firm News

According to Statista, there were 1.6 divorces per 1,000 Maryland residents in 2021. If you are going through a divorce, you know that navigating the complexities of divorce is challenging, both emotionally and logistically.

In Maryland, before deciding on the path forward, you need to understand the differences between the two primary types of divorce: limited and absolute.

What is a limited divorce?

A limited divorce, often seen as a legal separation, does not permanently end the marriage. Instead, it is a court-supervised separation where you and your spouse live apart but remain legally married. During this period, the court might make decisions about issues like child custody, child support and spousal support.

A limited divorce can serve as an intermediate step for couples who might not be ready for a complete divorce but want to live separately. It can also be a solution for those who do not yet meet the grounds for an absolute divorce.

To qualify for a limited divorce, you must meet specific criteria, such as being involuntarily separated, experiencing cruelty or excessively vicious conduct or desertion. Remember, a limited divorce does not require couples to live apart for a specific amount of time.

What is an absolute divorce?

An absolute divorce permanently ends the marriage. Once the court grants an absolute divorce, the marriage legally ceases to exist, allowing both parties to remarry if they wish. This type of divorce also addresses and resolves all issues related to property distribution, child custody, alimony and child support. After the court issues an absolute divorce, there is no going back to being legally married.

To obtain an absolute divorce, you need grounds like adultery, desertion for 12 months, voluntary separation for 12 months or criminal conviction of a spouse, among others.

Which one is right for you?

Deciding between a limited and absolute divorce depends on your situation. If you believe there is a chance of reconciliation or if you need time to meet the grounds for an absolute divorce, a limited divorce might be the better option. On the other hand, if you are ready to end the marriage and meet the necessary grounds, an absolute divorce is the way to go.

Understanding the nuances between limited and absolute divorce in Maryland is important to making informed decisions about your future. By knowing the difference between the two options, you can choose the path that best fits your needs and helps you move forward with clarity and confidence.