Should I File for a ‘Fault’ or ‘No Fault’ Divorce?

Maryland Law Blog

June 25, 2020
Category: Divorce

To obtain an absolute divorce in Maryland, a spouse must prove Fault grounds or No Fault grounds. In the past, the state required the party filing for divorce to corroborate their grounds via testimony, but this is no longer a requirement in all cases. Courts may now enter a divorce decree on an uncorroborated testimony of the filing party in some no-fault cases. Let’s take a closer look at fault and no-fault grounds for divorce to help you determine which you should pursue.

fault or no-fault divorce attorney

Mutual Consent and No-Fault Grounds for Divorce

A no-fault divorce may be sought when there are irreconcilable differences, or an irreparable breakdown of the marriage has occurred. The primary grounds for a No Fault divorce in Maryland require spouses to prove that they have lived separate and apart without having sexual relations for at least 12 months without interruption.

A more recent ground for absolute divorce is mutual consent, where you can file for divorce if you and your spouse mutually agree to the separation and both execute a Marital Settlement Agreement. The latter does not require spouses to have lived apart for a period of time before filing.

Requirements for Filing a Fault-Based Divorce

If you are seeking a fault-based divorce in Maryland, at least one of the following grounds must be proven:

  • Adultery: You do not have to provide proof that intercourse occurred, but you must prove that your spouse had both the opportunity and disposition for intercourse outside of the marriage.
  • Conviction of a Crime: You must show that your spouse was convicted of a crime, received a jail sentence of over three years, and has served at least 12 months of the sentence at the time of filing for divorce.
  • Cruelty: This is when a spouse’s conduct endangers the life or health of the other person or their minor child, and makes cohabitation unsafe. This can include mental abuse, physical abuse, and patterns of domestic violence.
  • Desertion: To file for desertion, the following must be proven: 1) It has continued without interruption for 12 months, 2) the deserting spouse intended to end the marriage, 3) cohabitation has ended, and 4) parties are beyond reasonable hope of reconciliation. One of two types of desertion must be proven:
    • Actual: When a party abandons the marital home without justification.
    • Constructive: When a party is forced to leave the marital home due to misconduct of the other party.
  • Insanity: Grounds must be proven for permanent and incurable insanity that show all of the following:
    • A spouse has been confined in a mental hospital or other institution for at least 3 years prior to filing for divorce.
    • Two or more physicians have testified that the insanity is permanent, incurable, and that there is no hope of recovery.
    • A spouse has been a resident of Maryland for two years or more before filing for divorce.

Proving Fault for Absolute Divorce in Maryland

Accusing your spouse of any of the above is not enough to file for divorce and may result in sanctions against you, including paying your spouse’s legal fees. This is why working with a professional Baltimore County divorce lawyer is essential when you’re considering divorce from your spouse. With legal guidance from a divorce attorney, you can more efficiently gather documented evidence and proof of grounds for an absolute divorce.

Get Legal Help from a Baltimore County Divorce Attorney

If you’re considering filing for either a fault or no-fault divorce in Baltimore County, get help from attorney Alan Billian. With over 28 years of experience, he offers spouses seeking  divorce in Maryland the guidance and support necessary to make important legal decisions with confidence. If you’d like to learn more about the grounds for divorce in our state or are seeking an attorney to help you through the divorce process, reach out to us today.

< Back to Blog


ratings request

Click to View the Areas that We Serve

Baltimore City

Baltimore County: Arbutus (21227), Catonsville (21228, 21250), Cockeysville (21030, 21031, 21065), Dundalk (21222), Edgemere (21219), Essex (21221), Garrison (21055), Lansdowne (21227), Lochearn (21207), Lutherville (21093), Middle River (21220), Milford Mill (21244), Overlea (21236), Owings Mills (21117), Parkville (21234), Park Heights (21215), Pikesville (21208), Randallstown (21133), Reisterstown (21136), Rosedale (21237), Timonium (21093), Towson (21204), White Marsh (21162), Woodlawn (21207), and more.

Howard County: Clarksville (21029), Columbia (21044), Cooksville (21723), Dorsey (21075), Elkridge (21075), Ellicott City (21043), Fulton (20759), Glenelg (21737), Glenwood (21738), Granite (21163), Hanover (21076), Highland (20777), Jessup (20794), Lisbon (21765), Marriottsville (21104), North Laurel (20723), West Friendship (21794), Woodbine (21797), Woodstock (21163), and more.

Carroll County: Eldersburg (21784), Finksburg (21048), Hampstead (21074), Manchester (21102), Marriottsville (21104), Taneytown (21787), Union Bridge (21791), Westminster (21157, 21158), Mount Airy (21771), New Windsor (21776), Sykesville (21784), Woodbine (21797), Taneytown (21787), and more.

Washington, DC and Northern Virginia

Anne Arundel County: Annapolis (21401, 21403, 21409), Arnold (21012), Crofton (21114), Crownsville (21032), Gambrills (21054), Glen Burnie (21060, 21061), Hanover (21076), Jessup (20794), Pasadena (21122), Severn (21144), Severna Park (21146).