Maryland Divorce Laws: What Counts As Living ‘Separate and Apart’?

By Jeff Kim

Jeff Kim, a domestic law attorney for Cordell & Cordell
Cordell & Cordell Baltimore Attorney Jeff Kim

Cordell & Cordell | Baltimore, Maryland divorce lawyer

Moving out of the marital home has also been called one of “The 10 Stupidest Mistakes Men Make When Facing Divorce” by Cordell & Cordell co-founder Joseph Cordell.

In general, Cordell & Cordell’s Maryland divorce lawyers encourage men to remain in the marital home, though there are exceptions. Complicating this general divorce rule of thumb is when parties pursue a divorce in Maryland on the ground of “living separate and apart.”

Is there a way to continue living in the marital home during the divorce process if Maryland’s divorce laws require a couple to be “separate and apart” before a divorce is final?

Maryland Divorce Ground: Separate and Apart

In Maryland, individuals may obtain a divorce based on the ground of living separate and apart. In order to obtain an absolute divorce under this ground in Maryland, the parties must be separated for one year.

In order to obtain a limited divorce under this ground, the parties must be separated with no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

Living “separate and apart” means that the spouses must live in separate residences without cohabitation. In other words, they must live under different roofs to file under the ground of living separate and apart.

While other jurisdictions have recognized that parties may be deemed to live separate and apart if they stay in separate bedrooms under the same roof, Maryland divorce laws do not recognize this view.

Thus, while parties may decide to separate while residing together in the same residence, the court will not recognize this arrangement as legally living separate and apart for purposes of divorce.

If parties pursue a divorce on the grounds of living separate and apart, the Plaintiff must have a corroborating witness at the final hearing to prove that the parties did in fact separate.

The witness will need to testify that the parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation and without resumption of the marital relationship. The corroborating witness may be any individual who is familiar enough with the parties’ separation to know that the parties have lived separate and apart.

Maryland Divorce Lawyer

If you are a man facing divorce, please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction to ensure your rights are protected. Cordell & Cordell has offices and family law attorneys located in Annapolis, Baltimore, and Bethesda should you seek additional information or possible legal representation.

To schedule an appointment with a men’s divorce attorney, including Baltimore Divorce Lawyer Jeff J. Kim, please contact Cordell & Cordell.