Divorce: Battling it Out Across State Lines

divorce across state lines

Sometimes one of the best ways to get a fresh start is to leave your spouse in another state and move. But picking up and starting over may be easier said than done when it comes to filing for and being granted a divorce. If you live in Maryland and your spouse lives in another state, there are a few things you need to know.

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1. It doesn’t matter where you got married.

It doesn’t matter which state you were married in, as long as your marriage was legal, Maryland will grant you a divorce. However, there are a few criteria you need to meet before your marriage can be dissolved.

2. You must live in Maryland for six months.

You cannot file for divorce in the state of Maryland if you have not lived here for six months. At that point, you are considered a legal resident and the courts can dissolve your marriage if you meet the rest of the state’s criteria. If you have not lived in Maryland for that six month period, you will either need to wait until you have, or you can file for divorce in the state from which you moved.

Since the divorce laws are particularly strict in this state, it may be in your best interest to file in your previous state of residence rather than waiting until that six month period is over. If you have lived in Maryland for six months, but your spouse has recently moved to another state, you can file for divorce in Maryland without having to wait.

3. If you file for divorce in Maryland, you must meet Maryland’s divorce criteria.

Since marriage is considered a contract, you must have grounds for dissolving that contract. The legal grounds for divorce in this state include proof of adultery, abandonment or abuse, one spouse being convicted of a crime or committed to an institution, living in separate homes for two years or more without sexual contact, or legal separation lasting at least 12 months.

Once you meet one of these conditions, it is possible for the court to grant an absolute divorce. If you have lived in Maryland for more than six months, you must meet one of these requirements. As tempting as it may be to move to take advantage of another state’s more lenient divorce laws, you must move to that state and meet their residency requirements before you can file for divorce there.

4. It doesn’t matter where the prenuptial agreement was signed. You can still attempt to enforce it.

A prenuptial agreement is a contract signed before marriage detailing what happens should a couple separate or divorce. However, like all contracts, a prenuptial agreement can be nullified with the right legal assistance. If you and your spouse have such a contract in place, it is important to discuss your options with a qualified attorney before filing for divorce.

If you are new to Maryland, if your spouse recently moved to another state, or if you are filing for divorce across state lines, call Jaimee McDowell to discuss your case.