When a married couple decides to get a divorce, they often want to do so in the quickest, most efficient way possible while minimizing the amount of stress that often accompanies the divorce process. In order to obtain a divorce in Maryland, you need to satisfy one of the “grounds” for divorce under Maryland law. In 2015, Maryland established a new ground for divorce based on mutual consent (or agreement) of the parties. At Greenberg Legal Group LLC, here are a few questions we often get about mutual consent divorce:
Do I Need To Be Separated From My Spouse To Get A Mutual Consent Divorce?
No. Separating from your spouse after deciding to get a divorce can be very difficult for a number of reasons, including the financial impact of finding an independent place to live. Before mutual consent was available as a ground for divorce, you could only obtain an absolute divorce on separation grounds if you were separated from your spouse continuously for a full year. Even then, you would only be able to file for an absolute divorce on 12-month separation grounds but your divorce case would likely take many more months to complete. This is not ideal for anybody looking to quickly get divorced and move on with their lives after the marriage.
With a mutual consent divorce, there is no requirement that you be separated from your spouse. In fact, you can continue to reside with your spouse both during and after the divorce if you and your spouse agree to this arrangement. This may give you additional time to plan for your post-separation and post-divorce life, including where you will live, what you can afford, etc. The lack of any separation requirement is one of the numerous benefits of a mutual consent divorce.
What Do I Need To Obtain A Mutual Consent Divorce?
In order to obtain a mutual consent divorce, you need a written agreement with your spouse which addresses all issues arising from the dissolution of your marriage. These written agreements have several different names, including “Separation Agreements,” “Marital Settlement Agreements” or “Marital Separation Agreements,” among others. Under Maryland law, a mutual consent divorce will only be granted if the written agreement is signed by both parties and addresses the following issues:
- The distribution of marital property, including homes, retirement accounts and other assets; and
- The care, custody, access, and support of minor or dependent children.
Make no mistake – these agreements can be complex and there are often many issues which need to be addressed in the agreement. Your Marital Settlement Agreement, like any other written agreement, is a contract which is legally binding upon you. Therefore, it is essential that your agreement be properly drafted with the assistance of an attorney. Your attorney can also make sure you fully understand the terms of your agreement and answer any questions you may have.
Once The MSA Is Signed, Am I Divorced?
No, at least not immediately. In order to become officially divorced, you need to obtain a Judgment of Absolute Divorce from the appropriate Court. In most cases, you will need to file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce based on mutual consent grounds and provide the Court with a copy of your written agreement. There are certain legal procedures which then need to be followed which will allow you to obtain your Judgment of Absolute Divorce.
It is important to note that in most mutual consent divorce cases, the Court will often expedite the case to a quicker conclusion than other cases. This is because in a mutual consent divorce – unlike other, contested divorce cases – the parties have already resolved their differences and there aren’t any issues for the Court to decide. By reaching an agreement, the divorce process itself becomes much more simple and can allow the parties to get divorced more quickly.
Robert Greenberg, Esq. and the law firm of Greenberg Legal Group LLC have extensive experience representing clients in divorce actions. We have helped many clients with both Marital Settlement Agreements and mutual consent divorce proceedings. Our firm is located in Annapolis, Maryland and practices in Courts throughout the State of Maryland. Please contact our office at (410) 924 – 7717 for further assistance.
For more information on Marital Settlement Agreements In Maryland, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (410) 650-4242 today.