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What is The Difference Between Limited Divorce & Absolute Divorce?

Posted in Divorce,Family Law on August 22, 2019

Maryland couples have two options when filing for divorce, limited or absolute. The type of divorce a couple chooses depends on the particulars of their situation. An experienced divorce lawyer at Arn Family Law can discuss the options in further detail as they pertain to your case and go over which one may be the right choice for you. Contact us today and schedule an initial consultation, call (240) 345-2015 or fill out our request form online.

What is a Limited Divorce?

Similar to a legal separation, a limited divorce allows a couple to live separately and apart from one another, although they remain married. This type of divorce can be chosen as a course of action when spouses do not have the grounds for absolute divorce or if there is a chance of reconciliation. A limited divorce allows the court to supervise the separation and to make decisions regarding custody, marital support, use and possession of the home and personal property. The court also has the ability to resolve disputes regarding ownership of personal property or order the sale of jointly owned personal property, however, they cannot make decisions on dividing the property or proceeds from sales equitably.

What is an Absolute Divorce?

An absolute divorce is a permanent end to a marriage. Once it is finalized, both individuals have the option of remarrying. Only a judge can grant an absolute divorce and there are grounds that must first be met. The same important issues, such as custody and child support, alimony, division of assets and debt, are still addressed and resolved. The major difference from limited divorce is that the marriage has completely ended.

Grounds for Divorce

In order to file for a divorce in Maryland, the complaint must be based on any one of the following:

Limited Divorce

There are four grounds by which a person can file for a limited divorce:

  • Cruelty of treatment: There is cruel or vicious treatment of a spouse or a minor child and no expectation of reconciliation.
  • Excessively vicious conduct: To a spouse or to a minor dependent of the complaining party.
  • Desertion: A spouse has deserted the other without just cause and with the intention of ending the marriage.
  • Voluntary separation: The parties are living separately and there is no reasonable hope or expectation of reconciliation.

Absolute Divorce

A spouse may seek an absolute divorce based on one of the following seven grounds:

  • Separation: The couple has been separated for at least one year, without interruption.
  • Adultery
  • Actual Desertion: A spouse abandoned and deserted the other for the duration of at least 12 months, without just cause.
  • Constructive Desertion: A spouse left the other due to persistent cruelty or vicious treatment and they have been separated for at least one year.
  • Felony or Misdemeanor: A spouse was convicted of a felony or misdemeanor and received a sentence of at least three years in a penal institution. In addition, at least one year of that sentence has been served before filing for divorce.
  • Cruelty of Treatment: Cruel or vicious conduct directed towards a spouse or a minor child and there is no reason to expect reconciliation.
  • Insanity: A spouse has been confined to a mental institution for three or more years and two doctors will testify that their mental state is incurable. Either spouse must be a Maryland resident for at least two years.
  • Mutual Consent: Both spouses have signed a written settlement agreement, which already resolves the issues related to alimony, property, and the care of, custody, access, and support of any minor or dependent children.