No Fault Grounds for Absolute Divorce (https://www.peoples-law.org/no-fault-grounds-absolute-divorce)
"No fault" divorce is divorce without grounds. There are two "no fault" grounds for absolute divorce in Maryland.
- 12 Month Separation
- Mutual Consent
12 Month Separation
This ground requires that the couple have lived apart, in separate homes without sexual intimacy, continuously for a year. Neither party needs to prove or claim “fault”. You and your spouse do not need to agree to separate or to divorce.
Mutual consent is a newer “no fault” ground for absolute divorce.
A court may grant an absolute divorce on the ground of mutual consent, without a waiting period, if:
- the parties submit to the court a written settlement agreement signed by both parties that resolves all issues relating to:
- alimony (https://www.peoples-law.org/alimony-maryland);
- the distribution of property (https://www.peoples-law.org/marital-and-non-marital-property-maryland), including any monetary awards, the family home, and family use personal property; AND
- the care, custody, access, and support of minor or dependent children;
- if the settlement agreement provides for child support, then a completed child support (https://www.peoples-law.org/legal-overview-child-support) guidelines worksheet must be attached to the agreement;
- neither party files a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing required under the Maryland Rules; AND
- after reviewing the settlement agreement, the court is satisfied that any terms of the agreement relating to minor or dependent children are in the best interests of those children (https://www.peoples-law.org/child-custody-maryland).
Additional Requirements & Considerations
For a judge in Maryland to hear the case, one spouse must meet certain residency requirements (https://www.peoples-law.org/residency-requirements-filing-divorce-maryland).
In the case of 12 month separation no-fault ground for absolute divorce, a party may defend him/herself by claiming that the two co-habitated or engaged in sexual relations during the separation. Unless the other side can prove that the grounds for divorce are met, the court may decide not to award the divorce.