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Opposition Arises to New Maryland Divorce Grounds

There is opposition today to Delegate Luiz Simmons’ move to modernize Maryland divorce law by adding a new ground for divorce.  The new ground would permit parties living together to get divorced if they have not had sex for a year.  Maryland’s no fault grounds, unlike Virginia and DC, require the parties to live under separate roofs for a year if they both agree or two years if they do not.  Delegate Ben Kramer is co-sponsoring the legislation and Senator Robert Zirkin is introducing a version in the Senate.

But Derek McCoy, president of the Association of Maryland Families is opposed.  “Lowering the divorce requirements — that’s a move in the wrong direction for the state.  We need to make it more challenging for divorces to occur,” McCoy is quoted as saying by Hayley Petersen in today’s Washington Examiner.

Meanwhile, unhappy couples still living together can avail themselves of Maryland’s fault grounds to obtain a divorce.  Cruelty, adultery and desertion for a year can occur while the parties are living together.

“The statutory term ‘desertion,’ as applied to husband and wife, means a cessation of the marital relation. And this doctrine is in accord with the general principles of the divorce law. We have seen that there may be a desertion although the parties live under the same roof. Desertion implies something more than merely ceasing to cohabit or live together; for, as applied to husband and wife, it means the ceasing to live together as husband and wife.” – Maryland Court of Appeals citing Divorce and Separation, by Nelson, in Fleegle v. Fleegle, 136 Md. 630, 634 (Md. 1920).

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2 Responses to “Opposition Arises to New Maryland Divorce Grounds”

  1. mitch Says:

    What is the status of the new proposed law that couples seeking divorce can live under the same roof as long as they do not have sex for one year?
    How is the one year without sex documented?

  2. James J. Gross Says:

    Mitch: The law did not pass last year. Ir will probably be introduced again next year. The legislation does not provide how it is to be proved but that will likely be testimony. It is more difficult to guess how it will be corroborated by independent evidence. The legislature did make a divorce easier to get in Maryland by reducing the required period of separation from two years to one year and deleting the requirement that the separation be mutual and voluntary.

 
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