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Domestic violence may remove need for separation before divorce

On July 15, Massachusetts Gov. Martin O'Malley addressed an audience of roughly 90 religious leaders in Annapolis. The event, which was held at the Banneker-Douglass Museum, marks the second anniversary of a statewide initiative aimed at reducing the frequency of domestic violence in Massachusetts. The governor's administration hopes to convince religious leaders to get the message out to their congregations about the damage that domestic violence and other crimes against women and children does to the community.

The administration says that by 2018, it hopes to reduce the amount of such crimes by as much as 25 percent. Although that number seems quite ambitious, there has been a steady drop in cases of domestic violence of 23 percent between the years of 2006-2013. Since just last July, there's been a 22 percent decrease in homicides of women. Those numbers mean that there were 10 fewer women killed in that time frame than the previous year.

The governor says that the Interfaith Domestic Violence Initiative is important to all because domestic violence affects everyone and is not just a woman's issue. The initiative has partnerships with state agencies throughout Massachusetts, in addition to other municipalities such as Baltimore city, Anne Arundel and Montgomery Counties.

Maryland state law provides for two different types of divorces; limited and absolute. Limited divorce does not require the customary six-month period of separation. In fact, depending on the grounds for the divorce the court may step in immediately to determine matters of spousal support, child support and child custody. One of the conditions that might necessitate a limited divorce includes cruelty of treatment.

Additionally, the court may determine which party will be allowed to remain within the marital home while the divorce is being finalized. Typically, this is done on a temporary basis. For example, a spouse who is victim of domestic violence would most likely be allowed to keep possession of the home.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "O'Malley asks religious leaders to help combat domestic violence" Doug Donovan, Jul. 15, 2014

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