The State of Maryland has recognized same-sex marriages since January 1, 2013, and has honored same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions since 2010. Even before same-sex marriages could be performed in Maryland, the state’s highest court ruled that same-sex couples legally married in another state could divorce in Maryland. There is still a residency requirement that must be met in Maryland.
Residency requirements for a Maryland divorce
To file for divorce in Maryland, at least one spouse must be physically living in Maryland. How long a party must have lived in Maryland before filing a divorce complaint depends on where the grounds for the divorce occurred. If the grounds for divorce occurred in Maryland, you need only to be living in the state at the time you file for divorce. But if the grounds for divorce occurred outside Maryland, at least one of the spouses must have lived in Maryland for at least a full year before the filing of the divorce complaint.
Maryland offers fault-based and no-fault divorces. The primary difference is that a no-fault divorce requires a 12-month separation before divorce, while a fault-based divorce does not. For a fault-based divorce, you must have one or more grounds, which include:
With respect to all of the grounds for divorce, the divorce will not be granted based on your and your spouse’s testimony alone. You must present other evidence, which can include the testimony of another witness or witnesses. If you can’t prove one of the fault-based grounds for divorce, you must go the no-fault route after an uninterrupted 12-month separation. You can file for divorce based on a 12-month separation even if your spouse does not consent to the divorce.
You can move around the State or even out of State after you file for divorce and still meet the residency requirements. What matters is that you or your spouse resided in Maryland when the divorce complaint was filed. If you are seeking a no-fault divorce, you will need to prove where you lived during the 12-month separation.
Maryland has two types of divorce— absolute and limited. A limited divorce determines the rights and obligations of the parties, but does not provide for a division of property and does not permit remarriage. An absolute divorce ends the marriage and determines all rights and obligations of the parties, including the final division of property. The grounds for an absolute are listed above on this page. A limited divorce may be granted on one of the following grounds:
- The spouses are voluntarily living apart and there is no expectation of reconciliation
- Cruel treatment
- Vicious conduct
Some couples who intend to ultimately file for an absolute divorce file will initially file for a limited divorce just to get the process started. If you file for a limited divorce, you can amend the complaint to seek a no-fault absolute divorce once you have been separated for one full year.