Ways in Which to Divorce in Baltimore, MD

by Beverly Bird

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.

Absolute Divorce

The typical divorce in Baltimore is an absolute divorce, a complete severance of the marital union. It's the same as in other states, but Maryland's legislature has given it a name all its own. After you receive your decree, you can remarry and you and your spouse can no longer inherit from each other. Terms for spousal support, custody, property division and child support are contained in an enforceable court order, your decree.

Limited Divorce

A limited divorce is Baltimore's version of legal separation. Typically, the only reason to seek a limited divorce is if you need more time to qualify for Maryland's absolute divorce grounds, some of which require waiting a year. If you can't wait that long for a court order addressing issues of support or custody, you can file for a limited divorce and the court can issue orders regarding these things right away. You and your spouse can still legally inherit from each other after a limited divorce because your marriage has not technically ended, and property issues are resolved only to the extent that the court can order which of you has the use and possession of assets. There's no requirement that you must file for a limited divorce before you get an absolute divorce.

Fault-Based Divorce

Both limited and absolute divorces require grounds, and your options differ somewhat depending on which type of divorce you elect to file. Limited divorce grounds include cruelty or excessively vicious conduct, desertion, or constructive desertion. Constructive desertion means that you were forced to leave your spouse because of his bad behavior or because he severed the marital relationship. There are no statutory time limits for fault grounds for limited divorce. Absolute divorce grounds are similar to those for limited divorce, but they also include adultery. If you file on grounds of desertion, you must wait a year after you or your spouse left the home. Insanity on the part of your spouse or conviction of a crime that involved imprisonment are also grounds for absolute divorce in Baltimore.

No-Fault Divorce

Maryland's no-fault grounds is separation. The state changed its legislative code in 2011, so spouses now only have to live separate and apart for a year to qualify. Separation is also grounds for a limited divorce, but you don't have to wait a year to file. Separation involves actually living in two separate residences with the understanding that the marriage can't be saved.

Contested Vs. Uncontested

The terms "contested" and "uncontested" refer to how you and your spouse resolve the issues of your marriage. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse settle custody, property division and support on your own and include the provisions in a signed agreement. You might have an agreement before you file for divorce, or you might negotiate one during the divorce process. If you divorce by agreement, not by trial, your divorce is uncontested. Otherwise, if the court must decide issues for you, it's contested.