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  • Laurie M. Wasserman

Changes to Family Law: What’s Ahead?

On October 1, 2018, new laws impacting family law matters will take effect. These new laws are:


  • a. The requirement that both parties appear at a “mutual consent” divorce hearing has been eliminated. [A “mutual consent” divorce is a “no fault” ground for divorce in Maryland and eliminates the need for any separation waiting period. Previously, both parties were required to appear at the hearing]

  • b. Anyone can get a “mutual consent” divorce so long as they have a signed agreement that resolves all issues arising out of the marriage (and has a child support guidelines worksheet attached, if applicable) and the court is satisfied that the agreement is in the children’s best interests. [Previously, only parties that had no minor children could file for a “mutual consent” divorce.]

Editor’s Note: It will be interesting to see how various jurisdictions incorporates these two new laws. How will the Court be “satisfied” the agreement is in the children’s best interests if both parents do not need to be present in Court?

  • c. A request for a divorce based on a “12-month separation” can be requested orally in Court with the consent of the other party. [Previously, it could only be done by written filing and response by the other party]

Domestic Violence

  • a. The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act provides an expedited process for terminating parental rights of a perpetrator of certain sexual assaults either forcontinued parenting by the other parent or adoption.

  • b. “Revenge porn” has been added as an act of abuse qualifying for a Protective Order.

What did not pass?

The major bills that did not get passed this legislative term were:

  • Repealing adultery as a misdemeanor crime.

  • Increasing minimum age to marry to 18 years old.

  • Increasing age of majority for child support from 18 to 23.

  • Proposal to include the parent’s spouse’s income in calculation of child support, as well as the parent’s attorney’s fees.

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