The short answer is yes, but it’s a bit complicated. While Maryland does recognize no-fault divorce, you are not permitted to live in the same residence as your spouse while you are waiting for your no-fault divorce to become final. The law requires a 12-month separation for a no-fault divorce in Maryland. In extraordinary circumstances, you do, however, have other options if there moving out is just not an option given your particular circumstances.
Filing for absolute or limited divorce on fault grounds
While you can’t live under the same roof if you are filing for a no-fault divorce, Ricketts V. Ricketts set a precedent allowing for a divorcing couple to live in the same residence. You must live in different parts of the house, not share a bed or have marital relations if you file under the fault grounds of adultery, excessive cruelty or “constructive desertion.” By part of its definition, constructive desertion means that one party is refusing to have sexual relations with the other. If this is case, then there is no worry about violating the law that says there can be no marital relations. Note, however, that the burden of proof is on the person claiming the “fault” and it is not unusual for one spouse to contradict the other. Since this is not the kind of situation where there is a witness, proof can be difficult. If you successfully prove a fault ground for divorcee, under these circumstances the divorcing couple may remain in the same house until the divorce is final. During the one year waiting period the two will effectively be living separate lives under the same roof.
How is custody, spousal support and property division handled if both parties are living in the same household?
Here is where it gets complicated. The Maryland Court does not have jurisdiction to rule on which parent gets physical custody, who will have visitation, whether alimony will be awarded while the spouses are in the same house. While theoretically a court could make a decision on marital assets while the spouses are living in the same house it is not likely given the inter-relationships between the various financial issues. One party must move out before this part of the divorce process can continue.
As you can see, given that each situation is different and complicated, you should seek the advice of a Maryland divorce attorney. Divorce is a complicated process, and the decisions you make now will have a lasting impact on your future.
At Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC, we offer individualized attention to our clients’ specific needs. Contact us today and schedule a consultation to discuss your case.