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Guidelines for separation

Couples in Maryland may want to pursue separation either prior to or instead of a divorce. Depending on the grounds for divorce that are being cited, it may be necessary to spend a period of time separated before proceeding with the divorce.

While the state does not have legal separation, individuals who intend to end the relationship and live apart while avoiding sexual intercourse with one another will be considered separated for legal purposes. However, they may also wish to pursue a separation agreement.

A separation agreement may cover many of the same issues that individuals need to address during a divorce. Child custody, support, visitation and asset division are some of the main areas that a separation agreement may cover. Couples who are struggling to come to an agreement regarding these issues may wish to work with a mediator. Furthermore, an attorney can be helpful in reviewing the agreement. Couples often include the provisions of the separation agreement in the divorce decree.

Two individuals with two school-age children and a home they both own may be seeking a divorce in a marriage where there has not been adultery or cruelty, and in such a case, they might need to live apart for 12 months first. Therefore, the individuals would need to decide who stays in the home, with whom the children live, and whether either of the individuals needs to pay support to the other. With the assistance of attorneys, they might decide that they will sell the home and move into separate residences and have the children split their time between them. If both couples have roughly the same income, they may also decide that neither will pay the other child or spousal support.

Source: Maryland Courts, "Family", November 15, 2014

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