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Legal Separation in Maryland

If you live in Maryland and want to get separated instead of what is known as divorce absolute, you may be able to do so by obtaining what is technically called a limited divorce. In most cases, there is no clear-cut benefit to getting a limited divorce instead of a traditional divorce; however, there are some cases when it makes sense.  One of the most common reasons people would chose to get legally separated in Maryland instead of getting legally divorced is because of religious reasons.  There are also some communities that still stigmatize the process of divorce, so there may be be cultural reasons as well for obtaining a legal separation instead of a standard Maryland divorce.

When speaking to your Rockville divorce attorney about obtaining a limited divorce, he can explain to you that the grounds are similar to what is required to obtain a fault-based divorce in Maryland.  Below is a list of the applicable grounds for obtaining a limited divorce or legal separation, as it is colloquially called.

Pursuant to divorce law in the state of Maryland, cruelty is one of the grounds by which you may file for a legal separation.  As is the case with an absolute divorce in Bethesda or elsewhere in Montgomery County, you must prove that your wife or husband has placed you or your children in the apprehension of immediate physical damage. While the Maryland Code allows you to use not only physical but also mental cruelty as a ground, we are generally talking about a pattern of cruel conduct in order to use cruelty as grounds for a limited divorce.  This does not mean that a single incident cannot be a basis for filing for legal separation, but it may depend on the level of cruelty involved in that incident.

Desertion can also be a valid basis for filing for legal separation in Maryland.  This requires a showing that your spouse has actually deserted.  This is distinct from the what is known by Maryland divorce lawyers as constructive desertion.  In the case of constructive desertion, your spouse does not support you or act in the manner in which one would expect a spouse to act, but has not physically left you or your children.

In Maryland, what is commonly called constructive desertion is known as a constructive divorce.  This is a very unfortunate situation where you spouse acts in such a way that you can not feasibly be expected to live with that person.  It is less than actual cruelty, but is more than simply being argumentative, as we often see with spouses that are in the contemplative stage of obtaining a divorce.

In addition to these grounds for obtaining a legal separation in Gaithersburg, you can also file for a limited divorce if you and your spouse have voluntarily agreed to live separately.  However, the purpose of the separation must be distinct from simply to meet the jurisdictional requirement necessary to obtain a divorce absolute.

One thing to keep in mind is that that you cannot get remarried if you are legally separated, but have not been granted a divorce absolute.

If you need assistance with a divorce case or any other family law matter in the District of Columbia or Maryland, please contact the Law Offices of Daniel A. Gross for a consultation.