To obtain an absolute divorce, one spouse must first prove that at least one “ground” (a legally accepted reason) for absolute divorce exists. A set of judicially recognized reasons for divorce exists in each state, including Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia.
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There are two types of grounds: a “no fault” ground for divorce, and grounds based on the “fault” of a spouse.
“No Fault” Divorce Actions
- “No-fault divorce” suits are those in which the spouses only ask for a divorce on the grounds that they have lived separate and apart, without any cohabitation and without interruption, and it being the intention of one of the parties that the separation be permanent, for the period of time required by law.
- The “12-month separation” ground for divorce exists in all states, including Virginia Maryland and District of Columbia.
- If the spouses have entered into a separation agreement and they have no minor children and they have lived separate and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for 6 (six) months. Such ground exists in Virginia.
- However, Maryland have superseded Virginia and in 2015 introduced a concept of divorce “by mutual consent”, so as long as the parties have entered into a valid official Marital Separation Agreement no specific period of separation is needed, they can file for a divorce at any time.
- However, it’s not so easy if the parties have children. For example Virginia expects parties to have lived separately for at least one year, and the courts in Maryland, although not having that requirement would still meticulously be checking all written parties agreements regarding custody and child support.
- Mandatory period of separation in District of Columbia is one year before you can file for a divorce.
“Fault” Grounds for Divorce
To obtain a fault-based divorce, you will have to prove that your spouse acted in certain ways. The fault grounds include: adultery, desertion, imprisonment for a crime, insanity, cruelty of treatment, and excessively vicious conduct.
In order to obtain a divorce either in Virginia or Maryland, at least one of the parties to the divorce action must have been (and still be) an actual and bona fide resident of the state for at least six (6) months prior to the filing of the divorce action.