Every divorce will have a good reason behind it. So, if you are on the verge of ending your marriage, you need to have the grounds for it. These grounds need to be proved in the court of law to obtain a divorce. The court has drawn several grounds for divorce and your reason should fit into one of them. In most cases, the divorcing parties themselves come up with the grounds for divorce but in a few cases, the attorney helps them out in choosing the correct grounds so that divorce can be obtained without any hitches.
The seven grounds for divorce in Maryland are:
- Cruelty or Excessively Vicious Conduct
- Permanent and Incurable Insanity
- Conviction of a Crime
- Voluntary separation
- Fault Grounds vs. No-Fault Grounds
Cruelty or Excessively Vicious Conduct in Maryland
Actually speaking cruelty and excessively vicious conduct are two separate grounds for divorce. But both these categories deal with abusive spouses. These divorce grounds cover both physical and mental abuse that can be directed toward either towards the other partner or the child. Such abuse may include threats, verbal abuse, taunting, domestic violence and other forms of Controlling behavior, isolation from friends or family, violence and threats of violence, or other misconduct which is calculated to seriously impair the health or to permanently destroy the happiness of the other partner may justify an absolute divorce on grounds of cruelty or excessively vicious conduct.
Violence to a large extent must render the continuation of the marital relationship impossible if the complaining spouse’s health, safety or self-respect is at stake. With violence on more than one occasion, the courts have granted a dissolve bonds of matrimony based on cruelty or excessively vicious conduct. Drunkenness in and of itself may not be adequate to comprise cruelty and/or vicious conduct. But when a spouse acts in a cruel and excessively vicious manner, it will amount to cruelty. Generally, any conduct on the part of a husband or wife that impairs the health or permanently destroys the happiness of the other will give rise to a cause of action for limited dissolve bonds of matrimony on the ground of cruelty. Use of profane and indecent language toward a spouse may not constitute cruelty, but it is a material fact when combined with other misconduct in ascertaining cruelty. When a husband publicly accuses his wife of adultery for the purpose of clearly defaming the wife, it may amount to mental cruelty. Forcing a spouse to sexual intercourse at times when it causes the other spouse serious injury and when there is a reasonable apprehension that such behavior will continue to harm the spouse divorce can be obtained based on the ground of cruelty.
Desertion in Maryland
When a spouse leave the marriages without the consent of the other, it amounts to desertion. It means the deserter needs to be absent from the family for at least 12 months. When you are thinking of obtaining a divorce in this ground, you need to prove to the court that you did not provoke the other spouse to leave the marriage and it was done on his or her own accord. Also, there must be no hope for reconciliation.
Constructive desertion happens when the spouse leaves the marriage to break away from some sort of misconduct inflicted by the other spouse. Most often it is cruelty or abuse. In the court of law, the judge will look at whether this decision to abandon the marriage was indeed reasonable and unavoidable.
The three rules to prove desertion are:
- you must establish your spouse’s absence from the marital home,
- that he left with the intention of ending the marriage,
- and that he did so against your will.
Proving that your spouse is absent from the marital home may be the easiest fact to establish. After you file for divorce, you’re entitled to issue subpoenas to third parties if they possess information pertinent to your case.
Permanent and Incurable Insanity in Maryland
In order to get a divorce on this ground, you need to prove that the insanity of your spouse is both permanent and incurable. Also, it requires the spouse to be confined in a mental institution for at least 3 years, as well as the doctor’s testimony regarding the condition of the patient.
Permanent and incurable insanity is a fault-based ground for divorce. In the context of absolute divorce, a spouse is considered permanently incurable if:
- the spouse has been confined in a mental institution, hospital, or other institution for at least three years prior to filing for the divorce; AND
- at least two physicians competent in psychiatry testifies that the insanity is permanently incurable and there is no hope of recovery; AND
- One of the parties has been a resident of Maryland for at least two years before filing for divorce.
Adultery in Maryland
One of the fault-based grounds for divorce is Adultery and there is no waiting period for this ground. If a party claims and proves that his or her spouse committed adultery, the court can grant the divorce immediately.
In order to prove adultery in court, it not necessarily proves that the actual intercourse occurred. However, you must prove that the offending spouse had both the disposition and the opportunity for intercourse outside of the marriage.
It is not enough for your spouse to simply admit to adultery. You must prove it by providing evidence such as text messages, photographs, emails, etc. In case the offending spouse is the husband and a child is born through adultery, this is usually enough to prove a claim of adultery.
There is no clear indication about how adultery relates to same-sex marriages. However, the Maryland Attorney General has issued an opinion suggesting that adultery should include “a spouse’s extramarital sexual infidelity with a person of the same sex.”
Conviction of a Crime in Maryland
The felony conviction of a spouse can disrupt and damage a marriage when the convicted spouse receives an extended prison sentence. The separation due to a jail sentence will certainly lead to financial and emotional strain and can result in dissolve bonds of matrimony. If your spouse has committed a crime and was sentenced to 3 years or more, you can file for divorce once the first 12 months of their sentence is completed.
Voluntary Separation in Maryland
Voluntary separation means when the spouses live apart without for at least a year. In these cases, you can apply for divorce, even if your spouse doesn’t agree to dissolve bonds of matrimony you.
Fault Grounds vs. No-Fault Grounds in Maryland
The one-year separation is the only no-fault divorce ground available in Maryland. If no other category fits your case, when one or both of you want a divorce, this is the best grounds. No spouse takes the blame of ending the marriage when opting for this ground.
Note that all the other grounds for divorce in Maryland enumerated herein are fault grounds, which means one of you is at fault for ending the marriage. In such cases, the court shall award child custody and split assets in favor of the spouse who is not at fault, especially when cruelty or vicious behavior are the grounds used.
It is best to consult a family lawyer in Maryland to ensure that you choose the right ground for divorce.