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Relationship issues prompted you and your spouse to seek a limited divorce. Technically, you're still married, but you live separately, and you may even be required to pay child support or alimony. Does all of this mean you're free to date again? Not necessarily.


A relatively new law has been passed in the Maryland General Assembly making a change in the grounds for divorce.

As of October 1,the new law eliminates voluntary separation as a ground for absolute divorce. Instead, the parties now must only be continuously separated for one year. You no longer have to prove that you have agreed to the separation and that it was mutual and voluntary, which was a requirement under the old law. If you want a divorce, simply separate from your spouse for one year. Maryland does requires that there be no sexual relations during the one year separation and that the parties live in separate residences for the entire year. In Virginia and in Washington DC, parties are allowed to separate but to live under the same roof while separated.

For individuals with children and unresolved custody issues, we recommend attempting to enter into a separation agreement that specifically deals with the kind of custody arrangement that will occur; determine the amount of child support under the Maryland Child Support Guidelines; and set out a clear, definite, and certain visitation arrangement in order to minimize disputes over custody and support.

When you can date again

If you own real property; have considerable deferred compensation such as a pension, k, or a defined pension plan that is for retirement; and have other assets, often it is better to have a written agreement regarding your wealth. In the examples given relating to custody, child support, division of assets, and deferred compensation, our opinion is to have an agreement that is comprehensive.

The new law does not affect the other possible grounds for divorce. Couples can still obtain a divorce on the fault grounds of cruelty, excessively vicious conduct, adultery, and desertion, even if the parties are living together under the same roof.

Divorce in maryland – faq

In order to prevail under a claim of cruelty or excessively vicious conduct, the conduct must rise to the level of domestic violence. For example, an individual would need to have been assaulted, placed in imminent fear of bodily harm, or have suffered one or more of the types of acts amounting to domestic violence. In the past, clients who were thinking about divorce and had no grounds or an agreement to separate, often would be held up for two years before being able to divorce.

With the new law, this lack of a fault ground or lack of an agreement to separate no longer stands in their way. The law also did not change the grounds for a limited divorce what many think of as a legal separation.

How long should you wait after legal separation to date again?

These remain:. A Limited Divorce can be seen as a head start in the divorce proceedings. This is often requested in initial pleadings, with the intent of amending the pleadings shortly before trial to request an Absolute Divorce.

In these cases, a fault ground or voluntary separation must still be alleged in the initial filings even if the intent is to later amend to a one year non fault ground. We can help you understand your options and help you through this difficult time in your marriage.

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Those who decide to get a separation in Maryland rarely plan on spending the rest of their lives alone.


Men and fathers going through a Maryland divorce face an array of challenges that threaten to upend their lives.


The fact is, if you want to date someone and still be in compliance with the law, you must be divorced first.


By Kristina Otterstrom.