A New Option for Married Couples with Minor Children in Maryland to File for Absolute Divorce Without Waiting for Any Required Separation Period

Prior to October 1, 2018, married couples with minor children could not take advantage of Mutual Consent as a ground for absolute divorce. As of October 1, 2018, married couples in Maryland who have minor children may qualify to obtain an absolute divorce based on Mutual Consent, without any requirement to live separate and apart, if the following requirements are met:

  1. A) The parties execute and submit to the court a written settlement agreement signed by both parties that resolves all issues relating to:
  2. alimony; and
  3. the distribution of property, including the relief provided in §§ 8–205 and 8–208 of MD Family Law Article; AND
  4. The care, custody, access, and support of minor or dependent children;
  5. B) The parties attach to the settlement agreement a completed child support guidelines worksheet if the settlement agreement provides for the payment of child support;
  6. C) Neither party files a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing required under the Maryland Rules; and
  7. D) Both parties appear before the court at the absolute divorce hearing; AND
  8. E) After reviewing the settlement agreement, the court is satisfied that any terms of the agreement relating to minor or dependent children are in the best interests of those children.
  9. F) If a court decrees an absolute divorce on the grounds of mutual consent, the court may:
  10. merge or incorporate the settlement agreement into the divorce decree; and
  11. modify or enforce the settlement agreement.

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