How Will A New Law Affect Your Ability To Divorce A Military Member In Maryland?

The military lifestyle can be a challenge for married couples -- from moving cross-country every few years to spending months apart at a time with worries about active combat, the trials a couple goes through (together and separately) are unique to the military lifestyle. While some couples can emerge from back-to-back tours stronger than ever, others may choose to end their marriage instead. If you were recently stationed in Maryland and plan to seek a divorce before relocating elsewhere, you may be confused by the number of residency and other requirements you'll need to establish before you can file, particularly when combining these requirements with federal laws governing military divorce. Fortunately, a few recent changes to the way Maryland handles divorces could make the process easier for you. Read on to learn more about how new laws could impact your case.

What changes were recently made to Maryland's divorce laws?

Prior to the recent changes, Maryland was one of only a few states with a strict requirement that couples planning to divorce spend at least 12 months living apart before the divorce can be finalized, even if both spouses want to divorce and agree on the division of assets and debts. This requirement could be a particular challenge for military couples seeking to divorce, as the 12-month waiting period usually excluded time spent living apart due to military deployment (even if the couple separated before the deployment took place). 

However, a recent change to this law eliminated the waiting period entirely for couples without minor children and who agreed on the split of assets. Another change lowered the period of time a couple was required to live in Maryland to 6 months from 12 months, another boon to military members who must frequently relocate from state to state. 

How can these changes affect your ability to file for divorce from a military spouse? 

If you and your spouse don't have children together, and you can agree on enough of the property division to keep from battling issues out in court, this law could potentially allow your divorce to be finalized anywhere from 12 to 18 months sooner (depending on how long you've been living in Maryland). You also won't be required to testify about potentially embarrassing details of your marital life as a judge tries to determine whether a one-night reconciliation is enough to reset the 12-month separation requirement.

However, if you and your spouse have children together, your divorce will still proceed a bit more slowly than in other states. While you'll still be able to file after living in Maryland for 6 months rather than a full year, you and your spouse will still need to maintain separate households for a full 12 months before your divorce can be granted.