To obtain a limited divorce, you must first prove at least one of four grounds. These grounds include the following:
- separation of the parties, no longer living in the same residence (or under the same roof overnight) and no longer having sexual relations for a period of less than 12-months (as you are eligible for an Absolute Divorce if you have been living in separate homes (or under the same roof overnight) and have not had sexual relations for 12 consecutive months).
- cruelty of treatment of a party or a minor child of the party
- excessively vicious conduct of a party or a minor child of the party
The more frequently used ground is desertion. There are two types of desertion, actual and constructive.
- Actual desertion is where one party unjustifiably abandons the other or actually ejects the other spouse from the home (or the marital bedroom).
- Constructive desertion is where one party is forced to leave the home (or the marital bedroom) because of the misconduct of the other.
There is no certain amount of time needed to prove desertion in a limited divorce. Any reasonable time period will justify the action.
Also, a spouse may obtain a limited divorce where one spouse engages in cruelty of treatment or excessively vicious conduct toward the other spouse or a minor child of the party who is filing for a limited divorce. A victimized spouse who leaves the marital home because of abuse also has a legal action for a limited divorce on the grounds of constructive desertion, as well as a justifiable defense to an abusing spouse’s claim of desertion.
Read the law: Md Code, Family Law § 7-102