In accordance with Article II, Section 17(c) of the Maryland Constitution, twenty-four (24) Senate Bills and thirty-one (31) House Bills will become law without Governor Larry Hogan’s signature. Of note, both Senate Bill 96 and Senate Bill 120 affect Family Law in the state of Maryland. These bills were constructed to make changes for divorce on grounds of mutual consent. The two bills become effective on October 1, 2018.
A Mutual Consent Divorce is a ‘no fault’ ground for absolute divorce in the state of Maryland that the court may grant if all requirements are met. ‘No fault’ refers to the reasoning for divorce. If a person files for a ‘no fault’ divorce, no blame is placed on either party for the dissolution of the marriage. This type of divorce does not require a year of separation prior to the Court granting the divorce.
As of right now, a Maryland court may decree an absolute divorce on the grounds of mutual consent if:
Both parties do not have any minor children in common;
Both parties submit to the court a written settlement agreement, signed by both parties, that resolves issues of alimony or the distribution of property;
Neither party files a pleading that the Court set aside their written settlement agreement; and
Both parties appear at the uncontested divorce hearing.
What Do These Bills Do?
SB96 concerns the requirement of a court appearance. This bill will repeal the requirement that both parties appear before the Court at an absolute divorce Hearing in order for the Court to decree an absolute divorce on the grounds of mutual consent from both parties.
SB120 involves parties with minor children. This bill will authorize the Court to decree an absolute divorce on the grounds of mutual consent if the parties have minor children, under certain circumstances. These circumstances are:
Requiring a certain settlement agreement to provide for the care, custody, access, and support of minor or dependent children;
Requiring the parties to attach a completed child support guidelines worksheet to a settlement agreement, if it provides for the payment of child support; and
After reviewing the settlement agreement, the Court must be satisfied that any terms of the agreement relating to minor or dependent children are in the best interests of those children.
The difference these bills will make is tremendous, and will especially impact couples with minor children in common, who were unable to previously be granted a divorce with ‘no fault’ grounds unless they lived separately for a year. Until these bills go into effect on October 1, 2018, the old requirements still stand for a divorce on grounds of mutual consent. If you are unsure as to if this may apply to you, or are seeking more information regarding how these new changes to divorce on grounds of mutual consent could affect you, please contact Fanning Law, LLC today to schedule a consultation.
Fanning Law, LLC Can Help
We assist individuals and families with family law issues and other legal concerns in Southern Maryland, Washington DC, and throughout the region. For more information about how Fanning Law, LLC can help you and your family, contact Bill Fanning at Fanning Law, LLC - The Offices of William C. Fanning, Jr. - 301.934.3620 or at www.fanninglawllc.com.