FAQs

What are the grounds for an absolute divorce?

The grounds for an absolute divorce in Maryland are adultery, desertion, conviction and incarceration for certain crimes under certain circumstances, 12 month separation, insanity under certain circumstances, cruelty of treatment toward you or your children, and excessively vicious treatment toward you or your children.

How long must I be separated from my spouse before I am eligible to seek an uncontested absolute divorce?

One year.

Can I get my old name back when I get divorced?

When you are granted an absolute divorce, the court can change your name to the name given to you at birth or any other former name you wish.

Does Maryland recognize the concept of common law marriage?

No.

If I am separated from my spouse, but not yet divorced, would it be considered adultery if I had sexual relations with another person?

Yes. As long as you are married, sexual relations with someone other than your spouse would be considered adultery regardless of whether or not you are separated or have a separation agreement.

Is adultery still a crime?

Yes. Adultery is still a crime in the State of Maryland.

I bought my fiancé an engagement ring and we have since broken-up, am I entitled to get the engagement ring back?

Yes. An engagement ring is a conditional gift with the condition being marriage.

What is marital property?

Marital property is generally all property/assets acquired by the parties, jointly or individually, during their marriage, except for inheritances and gifts from third parties. However, despite this simple description, there are many complexities that may arise in determining what is marital property.

If my spouse and I divorce is it possible for my spouse to claim a share of an inheritance I received?

No. An inheritance is not considered marital property and is therefore not subject to division between the parties.

If my spouse and I divorce will we each be entitled to half of the marital property?

Not necessarily. Absent an agreement between the parties, the court will ultimately determine each party’s share of the marital property. Maryland law does not mandate or require an equal division of marital property. However, it is not uncommon for the court to order an equal division of the parties’ marital property.

If my spouse earns more money than me, am I entitled to alimony?

Not necessarily. Disparity of income is just one of several factors the court must consider when presented with an alimony claim. The court will also consider your ability to be self-supporting, the time needed for you to find suitable employment, your standard of living during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, your contributions to the family, fault for the breakdown of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, the ability of your spouse to pay alimony, any agreements, other financial resources and obligations of the parties, retirement benefits available to the parties, and other factors.

If I am awarded alimony by the court how much will it be and how long will it last?

There is no set amount of alimony or set duration for alimony. The court will determine the amount and duration of any alimony it awards based on a host of factors including the disparity of income between the parties, your ability to be self-supporting, the time needed for you to find suitable employment, your standard of living during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, your contributions to the family, fault for the breakdown of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, the ability of your spouse to pay alimony, any agreements, other financial resources and obligations of the parties, and retirement benefits available to the parties. The court can also order that any alimony last until further order of the court.

What happens to my alimony if I remarry?

Absent an agreement with very specific, carefully drafted, language, alimony will terminate upon remarriage of the recipient.

Can court ordered alimony by changed?

Yes. The court has the ability to modify any alimony award it makes.

How is child support determined?

Child support is primarily based on each parent’s income, the cost of health insurance coverage for each child, childcare expenses due to employment or job search, and the number of overnights each child is with each parent. Maryland has child support guidelines that generally apply when the parents combined income is $180,000.00 or less. There are potentially other factors to be considered when calculating child support depending on the particular facts of the case.

How are custody and visitation arrangements with our children determined by the court?

There are many factors the court considers, however, the bottom line is that the court will make a decision based on what it believes is in the best interest of each child.

What court should I go to if I need to apply for a protective order?

A protective order can be sought in either the District Court or the Circuit Court in the county in which you live.

What if I need a protective order and the courts are closed?

You should then go the District Court Commissioner’s office in the county in which you live. Their offices are open 24 hours a day and a District Court Commissioner can issue a short-term protective order to be addressed further when the courts reopen.

If I need protection from another person should I apply for a protective order or peace order?

If the person you need protection from is a current or former spouse then you should apply for a protective order. If the person you need protection from is someone you have had a sexual relationship with and have lived with for at least 90 days within the last year, you should apply for a protective order. If you are related to the person you need protection from by blood, marriage or adoption then you should apply for a protective order. If you are the parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild of the person you need protection from, and you have lived with that person for at least 90 days within the last year then you should apply for a protective order. If you are a vulnerable adult as defined by law than you should seek a protective order. If you have a child in common with the person you need protection from then you should seek a protective order. If you need protection from any other persons (i.e., neighbors, friends, coaches, students, employees, co-workers etc.) then you should apply for a peace order.