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Learn about Maryland's limited divorce option

The term "limited divorce" sounds intriguing when couples are thinking about ending their marriage. It sounds like a half-measure or perhaps even a way to ease into divorce. It can be both of those things, but couples must meet certain requirements to seek a limited divorce in Maryland.

What is limited divorce?

In contrast to an absolute divorce, which terminates a marriage completely, a limited divorce is more like a legal separation. Essentially, it grants the spouses the right to live apart and separately while still being legally married. A limited divorce can go on indefinitely until the couple decides to get an absolute divorce or perhaps even reunite.

Why do people choose limited divorce?

Many times, this option may be ideal for couples without fault grounds for an absolute divorce. These grounds include adultery, a lengthy separation and several others. The limited divorce option allows the couple to live apart until they meet the fault grounds requirements for absolute divorce.

Must certain grounds exist for limited divorce?

Yes, but they are a bit more relaxed than the requirements for an absolute divorce. The grounds for a limited divorce include:

-- Living apart with no sexual contact for up to 12 months

-- Cruel treatment towards a spouse or a child

-- "Excessively vicious conduct" towards one party or a child of a party

The final ground is desertion and there are two types. Actual desertion typically means one spouse abandoned the other or ejected him or her from the home or the marital bedroom. Constructive desertion usually means one spouse was forced to leave the home or the marital bedroom because of the other spouse's misconduct.

As you can see, the limited divorce alternative answers a specific need that many Maryland residents have. For those facing the imminent end of an important relationship, it may be beneficial to talk about limited divorce with an attorney.

Source: The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Grounds for Limited Divorce," accessed July 21, 2016

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