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Maryland Divorce: Fault Based Grounds for Divorce

As stated in the August 15, 2009 blog, Maryland is a hybrid state in that a party filing for an absolute divorce may elect to proceed on fault (contested) or no-fault (uncontested) based grounds. The Maryland Code, Family Law ยง 7-103 states that there are six fault based grounds for an absolute divorce: adultery, desertion, cruelty of treatment, insanity, incarceration and excessively vicious conduct.

Adultery, or voluntary intercourse between a spouse and an individual other than their spouse who is of the opposite sex, is a fault based ground for divorce that requires no waiting period to file. However, while you do not have to show evidence of the actual intercourse between your spouse and his or her paramour you must be able to prove both the opportunity and disposition for the adulterous intercourse to be proven.

In order to file for an absolute divorce based on desertion the desertion must continue for one year uninterrupted before filing, must have been a final and deliberate act, and there must be no reasonable hope of reconciliation. Desertion can be either actual or constructive. Actual desertion occurs when the spouse leaves the home without cause, and constructive desertion occurs when a spouse’s conduct justifies a leaving spouse to do so.

Cruelty of treatment and excessively vicious conduct are both fault based grounds that do not require any waiting period. Both grounds involve acts or a single act of violent conduct. Cruelty of treatment involves conduct that threatens or inflicts bodily harm upon a person or minor child of the parties. Excessively vicious conduct is usually acts of extreme domestic violence and may require a pattern of this violence.

You can file for an absolute divorce on the grounds of insanity if your spouse has been a resident of a hospital or mental facility for three years, two physicians have confirmed that the insanity is incurable and there is no hope of recovery, and you or your spouse has lived in Maryland for two years.

In order to file for a divorce on the grounds of incarceration of your spouse, he or she must have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, sentenced to serve at least three years in a penal institution, and already had served one year of that sentence.

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740

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