Three new bills were passed by the Legislature in the recent 2015 session and approved by the Governor, allowing Maryland residents to have more control in deciding when their marriage is over. The experienced attorneys at Snee, Mahoney, Lutche & Helmlinger shed insight to the new laws.
Maryland has a reputation as conservative and paternalistic in the context of divorce laws – until now. Three new bills were passed by the Legislature in the 2015 session. Approved by the Governor, the new bills bring Maryland residents a bit closer to determining (for themselves) when their marriage is over.
The first bill, HB 1185, introduced by Delegate Kathleen Dumais, reduces the Maryland residency requirement from one year to six months. In our transient society, the reduction of a waiting period can allow the process to be smoother and perhaps easier. Waiting one year before the sole act of filing for divorce can be burdensome. Cutting that time in half may hopefully lead to more successful transitions for ex-spouses.
The second bill, HB 165, also introduced by Delegate Kathleen Dumais, clarifies and simplifies circumstances in which a couple can get a limited divorce. This new law removes elements of the limited divorce ground that required voluntariness of the separation and absence of any reasonable expectation of reconciliation. In short, if the parties do not live together anymore, and one of them no longer wants to continue the marital relationship, neither a court nor the State of Maryland can prevent the limited divorce process.
The third bill, SB 472, introduced by Senator Bobby Zirkin, allows divorce with no waiting period where a couple with no children in common have settled all issues in a written and signed agreement that is presented to the court. This new law is an entirely new ground for divorce – mutual consent. It also allows that same couple to live in the same house, while finances are tight, in the midst of divorcing. In certain circumstances, this might allow marital assets, such as housings costs, to be divided sooner. In short, divorce in Maryland will be a much easier process as a result of this change.
These three new laws redefine divorce in Maryland. Perhaps most importantly, it allows for Maryland residents to reflect the real need for couples making life decisions on their own. Together, these three bills evidence a significant modernization of Maryland divorce laws.
For more information regarding divorces in Maryland, contact experienced family law attorneys at Snee, Mahoney, Lutche & Helmlinger today.