Grounds for Divorce/Waiting Period in Maryland & DC
Interviewer: Can you get a divorce for any reason? Or do you have to have a certain reason, like someone cheated on you or there’s violence involved?
Anitha Johnson: In DC, they have what’s called no grounds divorce, or no fault divorce. That means that you don’t plead the ground. You don’t have to tell the court why you’re getting this divorce. After you’ve been separated for six months, and the other side the separation was neutral, then you can get it. Otherwise if it’s one year, even if it’s not neutral, you can get a divorce.
Interviewer: Okay. Is Maryland the same or different?
Anitha Johnson: Maryland reduced its time for separation. It used to be two years for no fault divorce. No fault means that if the other side doesn’t agree, you can still get a divorce if you are separated for two years. That’s changed recently in the past few years. Now it’s one year even if the other side doesn’t agree. If you’ve been separated for one year you can get a divorce.
Interviewer: What does separated mean? Does that mean that you still want to be in the marriage? Or you have to be physically living somewhere else?
Anitha Johnson: In Maryland, separation means that you’re separate or apart without cohabitation. It means that you’re not living together. In DC, you can actually get a divorce even though you’re living together. As long as you’re separated from, I forgot the term. Maybe it’s bed and board. If you’re staying in another room, you can get a divorce.
There are another grounds for divorce in Maryland. If the other side has committed adultery, the party who hasn’t committed adultery can file for divorce. By the way, that’s if they find out the other side has committed adultery, but you have to be able to prove this position and opportunity which means you can’t just say this person committed adultery. You have to have proof of adultery, which many times is hard to prove. In the event of desertion, when the other side just left and deserted you, you would have to be separated for one year. Constructive desertion means could mean that you’re living together, but the acts or conduct of the other person could be considered desertion.