Remarriage Before Divorce Is Final in Maryland

By Heather Frances J.D.

Generally, you are considered married until your divorce is final, and you cannot legally remarry before your current marriage is terminated -- even if you are in the process of divorcing. However, Maryland recognizes two types of divorce, which may complicate the issue of what is considered a “final” divorce.

Generally, you are considered married until your divorce is final, and you cannot legally remarry before your current marriage is terminated -- even if you are in the process of divorcing. However, Maryland recognizes two types of divorce, which may complicate the issue of what is considered a “final” divorce.

Marriage in Maryland

Maryland law considers marriage to be a civil contract between spouses, and this contract can be dissolved only by a court order. Often, the court’s dissolution will include provisions for child custody, alimony and child support payments, and for the distribution of assets. Once the court has officially dissolved the marriage, which is usually at the end of the divorce case, Maryland law has no restrictions on remarriage.

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Absolute Divorce

With an absolute divorce, your marriage is completely dissolved. After the judge enters the divorce decree, both you and your spouse are considered legally single. You are legally free to marry another person, if you wish. However, your divorce decree may contain statements that change your alimony or other settlements if you remarry. If you do not have grounds for absolute divorce, you may file for a limited divorce temporarily, to establish grounds for your absolute divorce.

Limited Divorce

Maryland recognizes a “limited divorce,” which is similar to a legal separation. A limited divorce does not terminate a marriage, however, so a spouse cannot remarry after a limited divorce order is entered. This may be confusing, since a limited divorce addresses many of the same issues that an absolute divorce addresses -- except the marriage remains legally intact. If you have sexual relations with another person during a limited divorce, it is considered adultery and this could provide grounds for your spouse to file for absolute divorce.

Bigamy

If you knowingly remarry before you have a final, absolute divorce decree, it is considered bigamy, which is a felony criminal charge in Maryland. If you are convicted, your sentence could include jail time of up to nine years.

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How to Obtain a Legal Separation in Maryland

References

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What Is a Limited Divorce in Maryland?

In Maryland, a “limited divorce” may be considered the best of both worlds. Some call Maryland’s limited divorce a type of legal separation if you and your spouse just cannot live under the same roof but want some form of legal documentation that designates your independent status. However, like the term suggests, there are limitations.

Legal Separation Enforcement in Maryland vs. Divorce

Maryland offers two types of divorce: limited and absolute. When a couple wishes to separate and is not ready to formalize a permanent divorce, they may obtain a limited divorce. Although Maryland does not provide for an actual legal separation, a limited divorce in Maryland is similar to what is called a "legal separation" in other states. A limited divorce is the court’s recognition of the parties maintaining separate residences; however, it does not dissolve the marriage. Court orders issued in a limited divorce may prove helpful as parties transition to an absolute divorce, serving as temporary orders until the waiting period for an absolute divorce is met.

Ways in Which to Divorce in Baltimore, MD

At first glance, Maryland seems to offer a lot of different ways to divorce, but it's not really that much more creative than other states. The Annotated Code of Maryland governs divorces in each of the state's counties, so Baltimore isn't unique from other locations. The Circuit Court in Baltimore City accepts divorce filings, and you can file there if either you or your spouse resides, owns a business or is employed in the city. Either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for a year.

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