Divorce and Family in Maryland and D.C

Divorce laws in Maryland and in DC are different, but what is the same is that, for clients, it is always a stressful time to go through.


It is my job to use my expertise to help you through the process by listening to your concerns, answering your questions candidly, protecting your rights, and working to resolve all issues. I have been successful in getting my clients what they want within the bounds of the law when they are entitled to it under the law.


One case of note, was a client who had custody issues in his divorce case. He wanted equal time with his son and daughter, and he wanted to have shared decision making as well with tie breaker authority. This means that, after conferring with his then-spouse, if they could not reach an agreement, he would take the lead with the decision. This was an excellent result for my client after all he had been through with his then-spouse.


Divorce in Maryland


Absolute Divorce

In Maryland getting an absolute divorce and is distinguishable from a limited divorce. When a judge grants an absolute divorce it means that the parties are no longer legally married.



For an uncontested absolute divorce that avoids trial, the parties must have a legally enforceable separation agreement prepared. They generally must have been separated for 12 months.

The New Law: In Maryland if you do not have children you may be able to get an expedited divorce without waiting 12 months (To read the law in all its legalese glory, see Maryland Family Law Article section 7-103(8), as amended: here).



When the parties do not agree on the issues to be resolved in a divorce a contested absolute divorce is appropriate and a trial will be held.

In Maryland, generally, you may terminate the marriage based on a 12-month separation if there is no expectation of reconciliation.

Or you may terminate the marriage based on fault: adultery, cruel treatment, insanity, desertion, certain criminal convictions. The decision about whether to obtain a fault divorce should be carefully evaluated with an attorney.


Limited Divorce in Maryland

A limited divorce can be granted by a court when the parties no longer want to live as husband and wife, but are still legally married. For this type of court order, the parties must be living separate and apart.

This type of judgment will establish an order for child custody, child support, alimony, retirement, health insurance, ownership of personal property and use and possession of the marital home, but will not decide the division of property.

The married couple may not remarry until they obtain an absolute divorce. 12 months after separating, the parties may obtain an absolute divorce.


Divorce in D.C.


In D.C., a divorce can be granted based on 1 of 2 grounds:

  1. If the parties have been living separated and apart by mutual agreement for 6 months; or
  2. If the parties have been living separate and apart involuntarily for 12 month; in other words, if one party leaves the other and there was no agreement about doing so that is an involuntary separation. Under some circumstances, a couple sharing a home may demonstrate that they are separated by not sharing food or a bed.



Like in Maryland, an uncontested divorce in D.C. requires that there be a legally enforceable separation agreement that reflects that all matters involving the marriage have been mutually agreed upon. If you wish to obtain an uncontested divorce, but have a few issues that you cannot agree on, mediation can help. It is much less expensive to mediate your issues than to have a contested divorce trial.



If there are any issues that need to be resolved between the parties, a contested divorce with a trial is appropriate.

The time in between filing your case and trial involves many things: determining what is in your best interests and any children you may have, developing a legal strategy to obtain what you seek, information gathering and evidence to help bolster your position, communicating with opposing counsel about a potential settlement, complying with court requirements, motions hearings with legally accurate arguments, preparing parties, witnesses, and experts for trial, and following legal, court, and evidentiary rules during trial. If you are thinking of dissolving your marriage, or contemplating a legal separation, you need a strong advocate who is knowledgeable and experienced.

Child Custody, Visitation, and Child Support


Representation for child custody and visitation is necessary in these three situations: (1) you want to have an enforceable court order that states who has primary custody, when each parent may see the child, how decisions regarding the child’s education, religion, and health will be made, and what child support will be; (2) you have an established court order that you want to have modified; and (3) the other party is not complying with the court order. When a court order is established the noncustodial parent will be ordered to pay child support. Child support takes into consideration that a share of household expenses is for the child. So, child support is for the child, it is not for the purpose of supplementing the mother’s income.


Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements


A prenuptial agreement is prepared prior to getting married. It is appropriate to have it drafted when you want to put an agreement in place and do not want the court to decide what happens to your property, assets, and debts should the unfortunate circumstance of a divorce occur. Although no one foresees to get divorced when they get engaged, it is similar to having insurance; the risk of needing it is always there though the risk may currently be slim.

A postnuptial agreement is prepared after you get married. It is an agreement that will decide what happens to your property, assets, and debts. Some people have one drafted when they did not have time to have a prenuptial agreement prepared. With both types of agreements you should consult an attorney to make sure you have all of the elements necessary for your agreement to be enforceable.