Maryland: Making it Easier to Get Divorced One Piece of Legislation at a Time

Over the past year, multiple changes have been made to Maryland law, which make it easier for couples to get a divorce.

On October 1, 2015, a new ground for Absolute Divorce came into effect – the ground of mutual consent. Under this ground, parties can get divorced and do not have to be separated for a minimum period of time if: (1) they “do not have any minor children in common” and (2) “the parties execute and submit to the court a written settlement agreement signed by both parties that resolve all issues relating to” alimony and the distribution of property. Additionally, in order to get divorced under this ground, both parties must appear at the divorce hearing, and neither party is allowed to file any pleading to set aside the agreement the parties entered into. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 7-103 (West).

Starting on October 1, 2016, the law regarding the need for a corroborating witness in a divorce proceeding is also changing. The Family Law section of the Maryland Code reads “A court may not enter a decree of divorce on the uncorroborated testimony of the party who is seeking the divorce.” Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 7-101 (West).

A corroborating witness in the context of a divorce proceeding is a person who testifies in a divorce hearing and their testimony supports the testimony of the parties getting divorced. Essentially, someone has to come to court with the parties, whether that is their child, a friend, or a relative, and tell the Judge or Magistrate that the couple has not stayed even one night under the same roof for the period of their separation.

This will all change on October 1, 2016, because the requirement is removed completely. Parties can now get a divorce on any ground without a corroborating witness. This will make it even easier for parties who do not have any minor children to get divorced because not only do they have the advantages discussed above, but now they do not need to bring a witness to court with them for their divorce proceeding.