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'What is "limited" and "absolute" divorce in Maryland?"

There are two different types of divorce available in Maryland. In order to legally end a marriage, a couple can either file for limited divorce or absolute divorce, and there are significant differences between the two. Limited divorce is often used when a married couple wishes to separate but they do not have grounds for divorce.

In a limited divorce, the court can settle some of the financial issues common among separating couples. If there are children involved, the court may grant custody to one parent and order child support from the other. Spousal support may also be addressed. This type of divorce can be temporary or permanent and can be revoked if the couple later decides they want to remain married.

An absolute divorce legally ends the marriage union. In Maryland, there must be grounds for divorce. Some of the grounds that are commonly used include a 12-month legal separation, adultery, cruel treatment and desertion. Divorce court judges decide a number of issues before the decree is granted.

If the divorce is taken to the court, it will decide which parent gets custody of minor children, how much child support the noncustodial parent will pay and whether one spouse has a need for alimony. In addition, all marital property is divided. In some cases, the property must be sold, allowing the proceeds to be divided among the spouses. In others, one spouse retains ownership and the title to the property is transferred to that person's name.

Lawyers are often involved in the divorce process. Typically, each spouse has their own lawyer to protect their interests. Lawyers also ensure their client gets their share of the marital property and, if applicable, child and spousal support. Divorce lawyers may also give their clients advice and guide them through the process to ease the stress of ending a marriage.

Source: The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Overview of Divorce in Maryland", September 04, 2014

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