If you’re a frequent reader of our Bethesda family law blog, you might remember an early May post that described the two different kinds of divorce in Maryland: absolute divorce and limited divorce.
As you’ll recall, absolute divorce legally ends your marriage and settles all issues, including child custody and property division. Limited divorce settles some issues but allows time for you and your spouse to settle important matters such as child custody and asset division.
Mutual consent in an absolute divorce
In this post, we’re going to dive into a specific ground for absolute divorce: mutual consent.
The mutual consent ground for divorce is Maryland’s version of the no-fault divorce available in many other states.
The mutual consent ground essentially says the divorce is based on irreconcilable differences in the marriage, and that there’s no hope for resolving the differences and no hope that the couple will reconcile.
A key part of the settlement agreement
An important element of the mutual consent divorce is the written settlement agreement. The document must settle all matters between you and your spouse. If you have minor children, the agreement should tell the court how child custody has been resolved, including a parenting plan and details of child support.
The settlement document must also tell the court how you and your spouse will divide marital property, including the house, cars and other jointly owned assets. This document is also the proper place to describe an arrangement for post-divorce sharing of health care benefits (often a component in divorces involving couples over age 50) and any spousal support (alimony) arrangements agreed to by each party.
Of course, the negotiation of such a comprehensive agreement can be a daunting challenge. After all, if a marriage is ending because of long-standing disagreements, or an inability to communicate, it is unlikely that spouses will be able to easily come to an agreement resolving the most challenging portions of a divorce.
The Maryland Judiciary cautions people that the written settlement agreement is an important document that has long-term consequences for family and finances. They urge everyone with complicated issues in their divorce to have a family law attorney on their side.
An experienced lawyer protects your family, your rights and your interests throughout the legal process.