Why Would Someone Want a Limited Divorce?

By Angie Gambone

A limited divorce is a type of separation that allows couples to settle some of their marital disputes without a final divorce. A limited divorce goes by different names in different states. It is most frequently called a legal separation. Some states call it a divorce from bed and board. It is important to note that there are some states that do not allow a limited divorce at all. Depending on your circumstances, there may be significant advantages to obtaining a limited divorce instead of an absolute divorce.

Filing Requirements

All states have residency and timing requirements that couples must meet before filing for an absolute divorce. For example, you may have to live in a state for at least one year before you can file for divorce in that state. With a limited divorce, courts may waive this waiting period, allowing you to file for a limited divorce even if you just moved to that state.

Separation Agreements

In a limited divorce, the court will enter an order that deals with all outstanding issues in the marriage. The court will divide up all existing assets and debts. The court will also deal with issues of custody and parenting time. Finally, the court can order one spouse to pay the other spouse alimony as part of a limited divorce. If a separating couple cannot agree on these issues, the court will make the decision for them. Both parties will be bound to this order even though they obtained only a limited divorce.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Health Insurance

One of the most prominent reasons that people will enter into a limited divorce is because it allows one partner to stay on her spouse's health insurance plan. When couples obtain an absolute divorce, one spouse is typically not permitted to stay on the other spouse's insurance plan without paying costly COBRA premiums. With a limited divorce, most insurance plans consider the couple to still be married, so they are able to remain on the same insurance plan.

Property Rights

In a limited divorce, the court will be able to divide up all marital property. However, since the couple is technically still married, any joint property will remain under the ownership of both spouses until the divorce becomes absolute or until one party buys out the other party's interest in the property. However, with a limited divorce, each spouse will likely lose the right to inherit from the other unless their wills specifically call for an inheritance despite a limited or absolute divorce. For example, if your spouse dies without a will or without naming you in his will, you may be prohibited from suing his estate for a portion of his assets.


A limited divorce can be beneficial for couples who are considering a trial separation. Some couples may not wish to obtain an absolute divorce because of the social or religious stigma that accompanies divorce. Also, a limited divorce is very easy to undo should the parties decide to reconcile later. With an absolute divorce, a reconciling couple would need to remarry each other. This is not true with a limited divorce: The couple would remain married if the limited divorce were revoked.

Drawbacks of Limited Divorce

A limited divorce has several disadvantages. First, a limited divorce can be entered only if both parties agree to it. If one party refuses, he cannot be forced into a limited divorce. On the other hand, one person can obtain an absolute divorce against her spouse's wishes. Also, with a limited divorce, both parties may be required to file separate income tax returns. There may be tax benefits to filing a joint tax return and those benefits are lost with a limited divorce. Finally, with a limited divorce, neither party is free to marry anyone else because they are technically still married to each other. Some states even consider it to be adultery if a spouse has sexual relations with anyone else during the limited divorce.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
What Is a Limited Divorce in Maryland?



Related articles

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.

How to Convert a General to a Limited Partnership

A general partnership is a contractual agreement between two or more people or entities to conduct business together. Since each partner in a general partnership remains personally liable for all business obligations, the law does not require it to file a formation document that notifies the public of its status as an independent entity. A limited partnership allows some of the partners to enjoy limited liability, meaning their personal responsibility for business debts is limited to the amount of their investment. States that allow the formation of limited partnerships require them to register with the state by filing a certificate of limited partnership, so the public can identify the parties legally responsible for business activity.

Dissolving Limited Partnerships

The laws of each state govern the creation and dissolution requirements of limited partnerships that operate within its jurisdiction. However, 18 states and the District of Columbia follow the Uniform Limited Partnership Act of 2001, thereby creating some uniformity in partnership dissolution rules. If the limited partnership you’re dissolving operates in a different state, the rules are fairly similar but differences may exist. Be sure to research the laws of your own state.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Limited vs. Absolute Divorce

When a couple is not yet ready or willing to pursue an absolute divorce, which ends the marriage completely, another ...

How to Obtain a Legal Separation in Maryland

In Maryland, a "limited divorce" is the equivalent of a legal separation in many other states. A limited divorce will ...

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 ...

Remarriage Before Divorce Is Final in Maryland

Generally, you are considered married until your divorce is final, and you cannot legally remarry before your current ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED