To obtain a limited divorce in Maryland, you must prove at least one of four grounds. These grounds include the following:
- Separation of the parties - parties are no longer living in the same residence (or under the same roof overnight) and no longer having sexual relations;
- Cruelty of treatment of a party or a minor child of the party;
- Excessively vicious conduct of a party or a minor child of the party; or
Of these four grounds, the more frequently used ground is desertion. There are two types of desertion, actual and constructive:
- Actual desertion - occurs when one party unjustifiably abandons the other or actually ejects the other spouse from the home (or the marital bedroom).
- Constructive desertion - occurs when one party is forced to leave the home (or the marital bedroom) because of the misconduct of the other.
There is no certain amount of time needed to prove desertion in a limited divorce. Any reasonable time period will justify the action.
Also, a spouse may obtain a limited divorce where one spouse engages in cruelty of treatment or excessively vicious conduct toward the other spouse or a minor child of the party who is filing for a limited divorce. A victimized spouse who leaves the marital home because of abuse may have a legal action for a limited divorce on the grounds of constructive desertion as well as a justifiable defense to an abusing spouse’s claim of desertion.
Read the law: Md. Code, Family Law § 7-102
Divorce Series: Determining a Legal Reason (or Ground) for Divorce from the Maryland Courts