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  • Writer's pictureLaurie M. Wasserman

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Maryland?

If you are considering filing for divorce, you will need to understand the different “grounds” for divorce. Grounds are your reason(s) for filing for a divorce and each has varying requirements under the law. In the state of Maryland, there are two types of grounds for divorce: “no-fault” and “fault” grounds. To put things simply, a no-fault divorce means that spouses want to divorce without accusing the other of acting in a manner that led to the demise of the marriage. In a fault-based divorce, one spouse has taken action(s) that made the other spouse want to file for divorce and they will need to prove that spouse’s actions.

Let us take a closer look at the different grounds for divorce in the state of Maryland:

No Faults Grounds Divorce

For a divorce with no fault grounds, the spouses must either be separated for a year or apply for a mutual consent divorce, as discussed in a prior blog post here.

Here are the two reasons to file for a no-fault divorce in the state of Maryland:

1. You and your spouse voluntarily separated. If you and your spouse have lived apart and have not had sexual relations for at least a year, this is considered a “No Fault Grounds 12 Month Separation”.

2. You and your spouse both want to divorce. A recent Maryland law now allows “Mutual Consent” divorce, when both spouses agree there are “No Fault Grounds” and they both want to divorce without a waiting period. To learn more about filing for a mutual consent divorce, please read our recent blog post here.

Fault Grounds Divorce

In a fault-based divorce, there must be evidence to prove to the Court that your spouse acted in a certain way, which we explain further below. The reasons for a fault-based divorce can become factors in determining alimony and sometimes child custody, if the actions or environment are deemed harmful to your children.

These are the possible grounds for a fault-based divorce in the state of Maryland:

1. Your spouse cheated on you. If your spouse committed “Adultery” and had a voluntary sexual relationship with another person, you must prove their misconduct in Court. If you do not have concrete evidence, you must at least prove to the Court both “disposition” and “opportunity”, that your spouse has a romantic relationship with someone else and that they were able to be alone together.

2. Your spouse left your family. In this case, the grounds are known as “Desertion”. To prove desertion in Court, you will need evidence that your spouse willingly left your family and has been away from your family for at least a year.

3. You left your spouse. Similar to Desertion, this is known as grounds for “Constructive Desertion”. In this case, you must have good reason to have abandoned the marriage, such as your spouse abusing you (and you need to protect your health, safety or well-being by leaving), and you must be away from your spouse for at least a year.

4. Your spouse is abusing you. If your spouse is mentally or physically abusive to you or your children, this is grounds for “Cruelty of Treatment and Excessively Vicious Conduct”.

5. Your spouse is in prison. If your spouse is sentenced to three years or more in prison, the Court will allow you to file for divorce under the grounds of “Conviction of a Crime”. You must wait until the first year has passed before filing for divorce.

6. Your spouse is clinically insane. If your grounds for divorce are that your spouse is insane, you must prove that his or her insanity is both permanent and incurable, otherwise known by the Court as “Permanent and Incurable Insanity”. Often, the Court will require a doctor’s testimony as evidence and that your spouse is admitted to a mental institution for at least three years.

The important thing to note about all of these grounds for divorce is that your family law attorney will guide you through the appropriate process. Your attorney will know what to do with your individual case and its specific needs. No divorce is alike and each will take a different path, which is why it is imperative that you have a family law attorney to find the best solutions for you. At Wasserman Family Law, we work with our clients to ensure they are supported every step of the way and they are prepared for the next chapter of their life.

If you have any questions about divorce, please contact Wasserman Family Law at 410-842-1070 or We practice in jurisdictions throughout the state of Maryland.


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