One of the most frequently asked questions from our clients is, “Can I get a legal separation in Maryland?”. Unlike in a few other states, in Maryland, you cannot petition the court for a legal separation. Instead, when a couple decides to separate prior to divorce, they may decide to enter into a Marital Separation Agreement or “MSA”, also known as a separation agreement. This agreement is a legally binding contract between spouses that clearly spells out each spouse’s rights and obligations concerning alimony, custody, child support, and property division. It can also address issues such as business interests, debts/expenses and income taxes.
If you have already separated from your spouse, the Marital Separation Agreement can also include the fact that the two of you have agreed to live as though you are unmarried (such as being physically separated from your spouse when you stop sleeping under the same roof and stop having sexual intercourse). With those terms outlined in the MSA, the fully executed agreement would be the equivalent of a contractual separation. In Maryland, the court will consider you to be married until the court itself has granted you a final divorce. If you have not separated from your spouse and still wish to get a divorce, you are not required to be living separate and apart to continue with the divorce process. To learn more about divorcing a live-in spouse, click here.
If you have a Marital Separation Agreement, it will become the basis for your mutual consent divorce. Once the Marital Separation Agreement is incorporated into the Judgment of Absolute Divorce, it becomes a court order and is enforceable by the court’s contempt powers. If the separation agreement is not incorporated into the Judgment of Absolute Divorce, and your spouse violates the terms of the agreement you can still seek money damages for the violation of the agreement, but it is easier and faster if the agreement is incorporated into the divorce decree.
If you and your spouse are asking yourselves, “Can I get a legal separation in Maryland?” – We offer virtual consultations as well as divorce and custody Mediations using Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Facetime, and telephone sessions to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today by calling 443-741-1147 to schedule a consultation or set up an appointment online using our website.