What is a limited divorce? There are two types of divorce in Maryland: a limited divorce (a divorce a mensa et throro) and an absolute divorce (a divorce a vincula matrimonii). As the name suggests, an absolute divorce completely terminates the marriage and entitles either of the parties, or both, to remarry. On the other hand, a limited divorce is a divorce from “bed and board.” That is, it grants the parties the right to live separate and apart; however, the parties remain married (indefinitely or until the time of an absolute divorce).
A limited divorce is a divorce from “bed and board.” That is, it grants the parties the right to live separate and apart; however, the parties remain married (indefinitely or until the time of an absolute divorce)
Given that a limited divorce does not terminate a marriage, people often ask what purpose (if any) a limited divorce serves. Well, as you may have already guessed, the grounds upon which a person can file for a limited divorce are different than the grounds upon which they can file for an absolute divorce. The grounds for divorce in Maryland are defined by statute. In order to obtain an absolute divorce, there must be fault grounds (such as adultery) or the parties must have lived separate and apart for a period of one year, without cohabitation, prior to filing for divorce. If spouses separate, have issues in their marriage upon which they are unable to agree, but do not meet the grounds for an absolute divorce, then one spouse to the marriage may file a complaint for a limited divorce. Filing for a limited divorce will allow the Court to decide custody, support, use and possession of the home and personal property, to resolve disputes regarding ownership of personal property, or order the sale of jointly owned personal property
Additionally, if the parties later satisfy the grounds for an absolute divorce while the action for limited divorce is still pending in the court, the complaint for limited divorce can be amended to include a prayer for absolute divorce based upon the new ground. For example, if a complaint for limited divorce is filed with the court, and while that complaint is pending, one year passes, the complaint for limited divorce may be amended to include a prayer for absolute divorce based upon a one-year separation.
Lots of clients come to us before their grounds for absolute divorce are “ripe,” and in those cases we consider a complaint for limited divorce.
If you are considering divorce and you are not sure if a limited divorce or an absolute divorce will meet your needs, the killed and knowledgeable Howard and Montgomery County divorce attorneys in Fulton, Columbia, Bethesda and Rockville can help you decide what is the right choice given your goals and circumstances. You are welcome to call McCabe Russell, PA at 443-917-3347 or fill out this contact form to schedule an appointment.