A 10-year quest for divorce finally succeeds

A Maryland divorce case made headlines nationwide recently after a decade-long struggle finally reached its conclusion. While most high-profile divorce battles involve celebrities, high-stakes assets or some combination of the two, this one was different. It hinged not on the details of the divorce, but on the divorce itself due to the fact that the husband simply refused to cooperate with the wife's wishes to end the marriage.

Ex-husband withheld necessary religious documentation

Although the divorce had already been finalized for legal purposes in the civil court system, the woman's ex-husband refused to sign the documentation necessary to make the divorce official according to the teachings of their shared Jewish faith.

The missing document was not required in order for the marriage to be legally dissolved according to Maryland state law, but it was essential for the divorce to be considered valid for religious purposes. Thus, the ex-husband's failure to provide the necessary document prevented the woman from being able to remarry within her faith.

This situation, though seemingly unique, is actually far from uncommon, Rabbi Jeremy Stern explained to CBS News. Stern works with an organization that advocates on behalf of women in similar situations throughout the country. A few years ago, Maryland lawmakers considered a bill that would have barred legally divorced spouses from withholding documents that allow a divorce to be recognized on religious grounds, but the measure did not pass. New York is currently the only state with such a law on the books.

Legal divorce in Maryland

For legal purposes, when seeking divorce in Maryland, it is not necessary for both spouses to agree - although it certainly can make things easier if they do. If both spouses wish to end the marriage, they can file for what is called a no-fault divorce.

In a no-fault divorce in Maryland, it is not necessary to establish specific grounds for divorce, or to prove that either spouse was responsible for causing the marriage to end. It is enough for the spouses to show that their marriage has broken down and cannot be repaired, for example due to differences in personality or temperament.

On the other hand, if the spouses do not agree to a no-fault divorce, the spouse seeking to end the marriage must prove that there are one or more grounds for divorce as defined by state law. Grounds for divorce in Maryland include:

  • Adultery
  • Insanity
  • Imprisonment
  • Abandonment
  • Cruelty
  • Vicious conduct
  • Long-term separation

In addition to the factors listed here, there are other requirements that must be met by divorcing spouses in Maryland, including residency restrictions. If you have questions about your rights and options when ending a marriage in Maryland, be sure to talk things over with a knowledgeable divorce and family law attorney in your area.