In Maryland, there are two types of “divorce” – Limited Divorce and Absolute divorce. There are important distinctions between the two, including the various grounds on which either can be obtained as well as the relief that the Court can grant.
Put simply, an Absolute Divorce is considered the final ending of a marriage. In contrast, a Limited Divorce does not end the marriage but establishes certain legal responsibilities while the parties are separated. This article will discuss some of the specifics of a Limited Divorce and how a Limited Divorce differs from an Absolute Divorce.
A Limited Divorce does not end a marriage, nor does it permit remarriage. After being granted a Limited Divorce, the parties may choose to file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce once they meet one of the grounds for absolute divorce.
A Limited Divorce is not permanent divorce. Many people often refer to Limited Divorce as legal separation. Limited Divorces may be indefinite or for a limited time only. When granting a Limited Divorce, the Court can make temporary decisions about:
During a limited divorce, the parties generally live physically apart, but still remain legally married. This means that under a Limited Divorce:
There are of four different grounds for Limited Divorce:
Many couples choose to file for Limited Divorce during the 12-month waiting period for an Absolute Divorce or if they otherwise lack grounds to seek an Absolute Divorce. A Limited Divorce helps parties work out the logistics of separation such as custody, maintenance of the marital home, alimony, health insurance coverage and other issues.
Limited Divorce can also help streamline the Absolute Divorce process once a party has grounds for an Absolute Divorce. After an Absolute Divorce complaint is filed, parties usually need to go through discovery, mediation, and several other processes to resolve any outstanding issues. These cases can take many months to resolve. However, a Limited Divorce requires many of the same steps and can help streamline some of the Absolute Divorce issues. Initiating a Limited Divorce proceeding before Absolute Divorce eligibility can help begin the process of resolving these issues. A Limited Divorce may also increase the chances that an Absolute Divorce proceeding will be resolved sooner.
Robert Greenberg is an experienced family law and civil
litigator serving clients across the State of Maryland.
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