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Couples in Maryland can now divorce by mutual consent

Many Maryland statutes have been on the books for decades, or longer, and some are in need of replacement or modernization. To that end, the General Assembly passed a 2015 law updating the way couples can obtain a divorce in our state.

Addressing the waiting period

Standard divorce procedure in Maryland requires that a couple must live apart for a year before they can divorce. This 12-month period begins immediately after one of the parties moves out of the marital home. If they later spend a night together under one roof, the clock starts running all over again. Couples who have minor children will still have to follow these guidelines and wait a year before divorcing. However, couples without minor children can take advantage of the new law.

What the new law means

The goal of the mutual consent law passed in 2015 is to eliminate the 12-month waiting period for divorce, but only for couples who do not have minor children. In addition, both parties in a marriage must consent to the divorce and agree to the way their property is to be divided. Under the new statute, the divorce process will move much more quickly and can be finalized within a few months.

Offering an incentive

Detractors say that the new law dispenses with a cooling-off period, which is the main reason for the 12-month version of a Maryland divorce. However, others who applaud the bill feel that it offers an incentive for couples to approach divorce amicably and work issues out themselves instead of going through a contentious court action.

Looking forward

An attorney experienced with family law matters and the rigors involved with traditional divorce will tell you that one of the goals of the new law is for each party to be able to look ahead with confidence rather than bitterness. If qualified couples can approach divorce in a civil, reasonable manner, turning the page to the next chapter in their lives is sure to be much easier to do.

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