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.

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.

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.

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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.


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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Legal Separation Enforcement in Maryland vs. Divorce


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In Oregon, divorce is called dissolution of marriage. Either spouse can file for dissolution and must do so in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Oregon statutes. During the dissolution proceeding, a court may divide marital property, award alimony, decide custody issues and terminate the marriage.

Florida Legal Separation Vs. Divorce

Florida provides “no-fault” divorce grounds for couples seeking to legally end their marriages. In some cases, one or both spouses may seek a legal separation rather than a divorce. In Florida, however, state law does not recognize legal separation, although the courts may still adjudicate some issues when couples are physically separated.

How to Legally Separate in Tennessee

Tennessee recognizes legal separation which authorizes married couples to live apart. A legal separation is essentially the same as a divorce in Tennessee, except that the spouses cannot remarry. The grounds for separation are the same as the grounds for divorce, and the court can rule on all of the issues usually dealt with in a divorce, except for the dissolution of marriage. Child custody, financial support and distribution of assets can be incorporated into a legal separation decree.

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