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  • By: Robert Greenberg, Esq.
  • Published: June 30, 2022
Limited Divorce In Maryland

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.

What IS Limited 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:

  • Alimony;
  • Child custody;
  • Child support;
  • Health insurance coverage; and
  • Temporary division and use of family property

During a limited divorce, the parties generally live physically apart, but still remain legally married. This means that under a Limited Divorce:

  • Neither spouse may remarry.
  • There is a documented date of separation between the spouses.
  • If the spouses have sexual relations with each other after that date, it will restart the time requirements for getting an absolute divorce based on the ground of separation.
  • Sexual relations between one spouse and a third person during a limited divorce is considered adultery.
  • If one spouse dies while a limited divorce is in place, the other spouse may still inherit property.
  • Unless the divorce decree says otherwise, the form of ownership for any property you own as spouses (for example, a house owned as tenants by the entireties) will stay the same.

What Are The Grounds For Limited Divorce?

There are of four different grounds for Limited Divorce:

  1. Separation of the parties: The parties no longer living in the same residence (or under the same roof overnight) and no longer having sexual relations.
  2. Cruelty of treatment: This can be towards a party or a minor child of the party.
  3. Excessively vicious conduct: Maryland law often regards excessively vicious conduct as requiring a similar type of conduct as that needed to prove cruelty.
  4. Desertion: There are two different types of desertion: actual and constructive. Actual desertion occurs when one party unjustifiably abandons the other or ejects the other spouse from the home. Constructive desertion occurs when one party is forced to leave the home (or the marital bedroom) because of the other’s misconduct.

Why Would I File For Limited Divorce Over Absolute 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 Esq.

Robert Greenberg is an experienced family law and civil
litigator serving clients across the State of Maryland.
Contact Us - (410) 673-4888

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