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What should Marylanders know if they opt for 'limited divorce'?

Maryland has something called a "limited divorce" or "legal separation." Couples may choose to go this route if they aren't ready to end their marriage with a divorce but choose to live apart and want to codify some agreements.

In a limited divorce, a financial settlement, including spousal and child support and property division be drafted to help one or both spouses. However, there are some restrictions that come with a limited divorce that people need to understand.

If a couple is granted a limited divorce, they are still legally married. Therefore, they are not able to marry anyone else. Further, if either or both spouses has sex with another person it's considered adultery. If one person is able to prove that the other one committed adultery , that is grounds for an "absolute divorce." Further, it can impact spousal support and child custody decisions made by the court.

How does someone prove adultery? Under Maryland law, you don't actually have to have pictures of your spouse caught in the act. Even evidence that your spouse has been out in public with another person may be enough for the courts to determine that he or she has committed adultery.

If you and your spouse separate, you may decide that it's preferable to work out your financial and custody issues on your own without getting the courts involved. However, you still want to protect yourself and your children. Whether you think that a permanent divorce may be in your future or not, it's best to consult a Maryland family law attorney to determine what your options are.

Source: The People's Law Library of Maryland, "Overview of Divorce in Maryland," accessed Jan. 14, 2016

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