One of the most frequently asked questions by our clients is, „Can I get legal separation in Maryland?“ Unlike other states, you can`t ask the court for legal separation in Maryland. Instead, if a couple decides to separate before divorce, they may choose to enter into a marriage separation agreement, or „MSA,“ also known as a separation agreement. This agreement is a legally binding contract between spouses that clearly sets out the rights and obligations of each spouse with respect to maintenance, custody, child support and division of property. It can also cover issues such as business interest, debt/expenses, and income taxes. The time immediately following a breakup can be stressful for many reasons. The emotional and financial trauma of breaking up is compounded by the fact that there are no rules or guidelines to advise both parties on what to do next. Not surprisingly, newly separated spouses can`t agree on anything and are usually very angry and often unable to make the most basic arrangements first. Thus, if no temporary agreement is reached, the court will schedule a hearing to temporarily resolve these issues. Technically, there is no legal separation in Maryland. In Maryland, whether a couple is separated or not is a matter of fact.
If the spouses do not have sex and do not sleep under the same roof (in the same apartment), they are considered separated. However, people often use the term „legal separation“ to mean that they have signed a contract called a separation agreement, which governs their marital rights, support claims, and other matters – but they have not yet obtained a divorce. If you have already separated from your spouse, the marriage separation agreement may also include the fact that you both agreed to live as if you were not married (for example, being physically separated from your spouse when you no longer sleep under the same roof and no longer have sex). With these conditions set out in the AMM, the fully executed agreement would amount to contractual separation. In Maryland, the court will consider you married until the court itself grants you a final divorce. If you haven`t separated from your spouse and still want a divorce, you don`t need to live apart to continue the divorce process. To learn more about the divorce of a living spouse, click here. In Maryland, legal separation is not required to be considered separate, but filing creates a legal document that can be referenced in court if the couple decides to divorce. As you may already know from this blog, there are two types of divorce in Maryland, „absolute divorce“ and „limited divorce.“ Only an absolute divorce really ends the marriage. Limited divorce is what people sometimes call a „legal separation,“ meaning the couple cannot remarry, but can get court-ordered redress about division of property, custody, child and spousal support, and similar matters.
Reasons are needed to obtain both types of divorce in Maryland. Maryland provides for a limited divorce that provides spouses with the same legal rights and protections as legal separation. In the case of a limited divorce, the spouses are still legally married, but ask the court to make decisions about property arrangements, alimony, alimony and child custody. Your spouse can`t cancel your separation agreement just because they aren`t satisfied with the agreed terms. When you and your spouse made the separation agreement, you signed a contract. In order to cancel the terms of your agreement (a contract), your spouse must prove that their consent to enter into the contract was obtained through coercion, fraud or undue influence. Is it important that I choose a guilty or not guilty reason for divorce? To file for a limited divorce in Maryland, the applicant must be a resident of the state at the time of filing. If the reasons occurred in another state, Maryland requires a residency period of at least one year. While the court generally recognizes the parties` agreements under the separation agreement, it can change the provisions for the care, custody, upbringing, maintenance and support of children to protect their best interests.
So no, you don`t necessarily need to separate before you divorce in Maryland. However, living apart for a year is not the only reason for an absolute divorce. This is just the only „no mistake“ reason. Maryland also has several fault-based reasons: If one party violates a settlement agreement, the other can sue for breach of the agreement and claim a breach of contract. However, in order to ensure enforceability in family court, the parties should include the separation agreement in the divorce judgment, but not merge it. After your divorce hearing, the court will issue an absolute divorce decree that contains the terms of your separation agreement, but does not merge the document with the final judgment. This means that your separation agreement will continue to exist as a separate legal contract after your divorce. The importance of this distinction lies in the application of your agreement.
If your spouse does not comply with the terms of your agreement, you can apply for contractual enforcement of the agreement or ask the court to convict your spouse for violating a court order.