When a married couple is moving toward divorce, the question of how to separate becomes very important. In Maryland there is no formal filing that has to be made for a separation to begin. One of the grounds for obtaining a divorce in Maryland is that a married couple live separately - apart without cohabitation - continuously for one year.
The separation begins when the couple physically separates, usually when one party moves from the marital home. It is a mistake to believe that just moving into another bedroom in the same house satisfies the legal burden of separation. There is a great deal of case law on the issue of separation, and while it might be possible for parties to live in the same house with separate apartments, including separate kitchens, laundries and so forth, there is some risk that a Court will not find that to meet the legal grounds for separation. When one spouse moves out of the family home and sets up a living arrangement in a separate residence, this generally is the scenario that satisfies the requirements of Maryland Law.
During or before separation, spouses may work cooperatively to set up an agreement, called a “Voluntary Separation and Property Settlement Agreement.” If the parties are cooperative in their separation, this is a good time to seek help from an Attorney skilled in meditation or collaboration who can help work out an agreement without increasing conflict.
Whether cooperative or conflicted, parties who are aware that their marriage is breaking down to the point of separation, should contact and see a family law attorney who can guide them through the landscape of separation and divorce. When the dissolution of a marriage leading to separation is not cooperative, the need for legal counsel is heightened. There are many things to consider in a separation including areas of financial and other vulnerability that should be discussed with a divorce attorney. For example, accounts that are held jointly with your spouse could be subject to dissolution by your spouse. At the Law Office of Kendall Summers, we meet with our clients who are going through or thinking about separation to understand their legal rights and to guide them into good decision-making to protect their financial assets and future. We have a wide range of resources, from accountants to therapists to help you make good decisions through the challenges of this chapter.