How to File for Legal Separation in Maryland

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

How to File for Legal Separation in Maryland

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

Legal separation does not exist in Maryland. However, Maryland law provides for limited divorce. This is a legal procedure similar to legal separation offered in other states. Some couples that are having marital troubles might not be ready for a divorce. But they do want to try a separation. If you're in this situation and you live in Maryland, limited divorce might be for you.

Man and woman sitting on opposite ends of a couch

1. Make sure you meet the criteria.

If you've made the decision to move forward with this legal action rather than proceeding with a divorce, there are certain criteria you must meet. To file for a limited divorce, you must first be able to prove that you have lived in Maryland for at least the previous 12 months. You must also be able to show that you and your spouse have been living separately.

You also need to have grounds for the limited divorce. Maryland allows for the following grounds:

  • Voluntary and mutual separation
  • Cruel treatment
  • Excessively vicious conduct
  • Desertion

2. Complete and file the Maryland limited divorce form.

Your next step is to complete the Maryland Complaint for Limited Divorce form. You need to have ready your grounds for seeking a limited divorce, where your spouse is living, and where your children live if you have any.

Once your form is completed, make a copy for yourself and file the original. You need to file this form with the clerk's office in the county where you live. The clerk requires a filing fee, but you may be able to apply for a filing fee waiver.

3. Prepare for mediation and a separation agreement.

Maryland does not require mediation, but it is a good step to take. If you and your spouse can resolve your dispute outside of the courtroom, not only will it save you time, it will also save you a great deal of money.

If you and your spouse can agree to terms during mediation, the mediator prepares a separation agreement. This document lays out the terms of your separation and provides for how your assets and time sharing responsibilities with your children should be divided. Once you've both signed the separation agreement, you can bring it to your hearing and the judge signs off on it.

4. Attend the hearing.

All limited divorces in Maryland must have a final hearing. This is where you receive your limited divorce decree.

If there are disputes about assets or custody of children, the judge attempts to resolve these issues during this hearing. But if you have attended mediation and agreed to terms in a separation agreement, the judge reviews the agreement and sign off on the terms. This can greatly reduce the time you spend in the courtroom and the costs associated with your limited divorce.

If you have religious objections to divorce or if you think you might want to give your marriage another shot, a Maryland limited divorce might be the right option for you. Following these steps will help to make sure your limited divorce goes as smoothly as possible.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help.

Learn more