There's been a change in Maryland law relating to divorce and separation. How does the process work?
1.) The couple has no minor children; and
2.) The couple negotiated and signed a binding Property Settlement Agreement; and
3.) Neither party seeks to modify or challenge some or all of the Property Settlement Agreement; and
4.) Both parties attend the final divorce hearing;
Then: You may file for divorce without having to be physically separated in two separate residences for the one-year waiting period.
Mutual Consent Divorce is now part of the laws of Maryland. Beginning today, October 1, 2015, for the qualifying couples, the year of separation limbo is a thing of the past.
Many of my mediating couples come to me soon after making their decision to divorce or separate, anxious to promptly address the unknowns of the future, to “settle” the issues in the hopes of actually settling their very unsettled lives.
If you are a couple who does not qualify, here's a news flash: There was never a required 1 year separation period to negotiate and sign a settlement. Never. The required 1 year separation period for those who do not qualify for Mutual Consent Divorce in Maryland pertains only to filing for the actual divorce. Therefore if you don't qualify, thatdoesn't mean you have to miss the true positive impact of this change in this new Mutual Consent law- that a prompt settlement is less costly both financially and emotionally.
The 1 year separation period had (and has for those who don't qualify for Mutual Consent Divorce) the unfortunate consequence of dragging out the negotiations increasing costs and conflict, by providing 12 months of opportunity for additional conflicts to aggravate the negotiations (think dating and social media as just one example) and aggravation means financial costs increase. The Mutual Consent grounds for divorce in Maryland, carrying the promise of a fast divorce provides the parties with greater settlement incentive. Almost every divorcing person wants to reach “the other side” as soon as possible. From a mediator’s perspective, increasing the incentive to settle is a positive development for the parties involved.
Therefore whether you do qualify for the Mutual Consent Divorce in Maryland, or you don't qualify for the Mutual Consent Divorce in Maryland, the emotional and financial benefit to promptly facing the issues, settling the issues, reconstructing lives sooner rather than later, is a worthy goal.