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Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law



Maryland Divorce Legal Crier

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Does Rickets Apply to an Absolute Divorce?

In Maryland, you can have an absolute, that is a final divorce, or a limited divorce, which is similar to a legal separation in the District of Columbia, or a divorce from bed and board in Virginia.

You can convert a limited divorce into an absolute divorce when you have grounds for an absolute divorce. Usually it doesn’t make sense to file for a limited divorce because you are taking two steps when one will do. You don’t need to file for a limited divorce first in order to obtain an absolute divorce. And certain types of relief, like sale of real estate, is not available in a limited divorce.

So why would you file for a limited divorce? Well, if you didn’t have grounds for an absolute divorce, but you wanted to get in front of the court to decide something temporarily, like child custody, child support, visitation or alimony. Some of the grounds for a limited divorce are easier to meet than those for an absolute divorce.

So what do you do with the client that wants to file for an absolute divorce now, but the parties are still living together? Can Ricketts, which was a case involving a limited divorce, also apply in the case of an absolute divorce? In other words, if Mr. Ricketts had been forced to leave the bedroom and denied sex for a period of one year, could he maintain a suit for an absolute divorce on grounds of constructive desertion for one year?

The Maryland Court of Appeals gave us a clue in Ricketts:

The fact that the spouses sleep in separate bedrooms or that they have ceased engaging in sexual relations does not per se establish constructive desertion, however…. Additionally, when a husband and wife continue to live together without marital relations and yet neither makes any effort towards reconciliation, it is presumed that both spouses prefer to live under such circumstances, and, therefore, neither has a cause for divorce on the grounds of constructive desertion. Davey v. Davey, 202 Md. 428, 432, 96 A.2d. 606, 608 (1953).

So if seems to me, that you are going to have a hard time getting an absolute divorce in these circumstances because you have to overcome a presumption against you and the judge is going to ask you, “If it was so bad, why did you stay?” But you can try. Just be sure to also ask the court to give you a limited divorce if it does not find grounds sufficient to support an absolute divorce.


One Response to “Does Rickets Apply to an Absolute Divorce?”

  1. charles harris Says:

    my wife filed for a absolute divorce in maryland and the divorce papers state any other appropriate relief what doe that mean

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