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Maryland Legal Separation
Legal Separation in Maryland

Maryland provides for a limited divorce, which provides spouses with the same legal rights and protections as a legal separation. In a limited divorce, the spouses are still legally married, but petition the court for decisions regarding property settlements, alimony, child support and custody.

Legal separation provides married couples with an alternative to divorce when they are not ready to end the marriage or are opposed to divorce for moral, religious or financial reasons. In addition, a legal separation leaves the door open for reconciliation, should both parties agree.

Before a legal separation is granted by the courts, the partners may be required to make an attempt at reconciliation per the court's recommendation.

In Maryland, a legal separation is not required in order to be considered separated, but filing produces a legal document that can be referenced in court should the couple decide to proceed with a divorce.

A legal separation by definition is a court order that allows a married couple to live apart with the same rights and obligations of a divorced couple.

A legal separation does not protect a spouse from abuse, so a restraining order may be required, which is a totally separate process.

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal binding contract signed by spouses, which is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending upon the unique situation of the marriage. Many spouses consult an attorney to provide this or they decide to prepare their own.

Complaint

The petitioner must file a Complaint for Limited Divorce and the Civil-Domestic Case Information Report as well as a financial statement and a child support worksheet form if spousal and child support issues are involved.

Grounds

In Maryland, according to the Annotated Code of Maryland; Family Law, Section 7-102, the grounds for a limited divorce are willful desertion, cruel and inhuman treatment, voluntary separation and living separate and apart without cohabitation. The legal separation may be permanent or temporary.

Residency

To file for a limited divorce in Maryland, the petitioner must be a resident of the state at the time of filing. If the grounds occurred in another state, Maryland requires a residency period of at least one year.

Procedure

The limited divorce paperwork - the summons and complaint - is served by a private process server, the sheriffs office or any adult over the age of 18, excluding the petitioner. If using a private company or adult, that person must be provided with the appropriate Affidavit of Service form and an additional copy of the Writ of Summons. He or she will need to file the Writ and a completed form with the court clerk, when service is complete.

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