Maryland Courts recognize two kinds of divorce. A limited divorce, which is a legal separation in which the parties are entitled to temporary relief including temporary custody and visitation, support and use and possession of the martial home but no property division, and the parties remain legally married. An absolute divorce, which is the commonly understood meaning of divorce, is where the marriage is judicially terminated and the Court makes determinations of custody, visitation, support and martial property division. There are numerous grounds for divorce which go to heart of the marital relationship. Maryland Court may award temporary or indefinite alimony to either spouse. Additionally, the Court may grant relief to the parties during the litigation for support and visitation.
The "best interest of the child" standard is used to decide all issues concerning child support, custody and visitation. These determinations can always be revised by the Court. The Maryland Courts determine awards of child support in accordance with both child support guidelines based on the respective spouses' pre-tax earnings, as well as other situation-dependent factors. The Court also has the authority to make a martial property award to either spouse. Disputes between the parties can often be resolved prior to trial by voluntary agreement or through mediation, which the Court frequently orders. See our Publication on Mediation.
Often the parties memorialize any agreement they have made in a separation and Property Settlement Agreement. This Agreement is the legal foundation for filing for an absolute divorce based upon a one-year voluntary separation.