In Maryland, there are a number of different grounds for divorce.
Most often, the parties reach an agreement that the separation is a
voluntary one and one year after they begin living physically
separate and apart, a divorce is obtained. Another ground for
divorce that requires the one-year separation is desertion. This is
when one spouse leaves another with no justification or reason for
doing so. After living separate and apart for a year, the party who
was deserted may obtain a divorce.
Sometimes the parties differ as to whether there was a desertion
or a constructive desertion. Constructive desertion occurs when one
spouse is forced to leave the home because the other has acted in
such a way that the spouse who left had to leave to preserve her or
his dignity, wellbeing and self-respect. For this ground for
divorce, you may not have to live physically separate and apart for
a year before obtaining the divorce.
Recently the legislature has expanded grounds for divorce to
include cruelty or harshness of treatment. These two new grounds are
based on obtaining an Order for Protection from Domestic Violence
(see link). For these grounds, you need not wait for a year's
physical separation. Another ground for divorce that doesn't require
the year separation is adultery. To prove adultery, you must show
motive and an opportunity for the adultery to occur.
There are a few other grounds for divorce, including insanity and
incarceration for at least three years. All grounds for divorce
require a corroborating witness. This is someone who knows both
spouses, knows when they married, knows when they separated, and why
they separated. When the time come to present testimony on grounds,
your attorney will help you decide who is the best witness to
corroborate your testimony.
For more information on grounds for divorce, go to our Resource
Links and click on http://www.dhr.state.md.us./mcw.
When you reach that site, click on and request a copy of Legal
Rights in Marriage & Divorce.
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Barbara R. Trader, P.A.
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