Maryland Updates Mutual Consent Divorce Policy
The state of Maryland has already implemented what is known as mutual consent as the basis for absolute divorce proceedings. This has proven to be beneficial for the parties that chose to use it, and now, the state General Assembly has updated the policy to make it more inclusive and open to more people. It is important to know the current bill, how it may apply to you, and what it means for the parties heading toward divorce.
Mutual consent, as originally introduced, allowed parties without minor children to bypass the mandatory one-year separation period in the state and go straight to a final and absolute divorce. To do so, the two had to agree on a signed and written separation agreement. This agreement needed to resolve all matters related to divorce, including alimony and property division. Once the agreement was signed, as long as neither party filed a request to vacate it, the two of them simply had to appear in court for the hearing and be done with the matter.
Now, the state of Maryland has updated mutual consent divorce to allow parties with minor children to follow this path as well. All of the above still applies as is, however there are key updates as well. The updates focus on the need for the separation agreement to also address all issues related to children.
As the bill says in its exact words, “the care, custody, access and support of minor or dependent children.” If the agreement requires payment of child support, a child support worksheet must also be attached. The court now also has a bit of the last word in matters related to underage children. They have to determine if the agreement is in the best interests of the children. If they make that determination, then absolute divorce is granted by mutual consent.
Of course, before taking any other action, it is always best to find an experienced local attorney who can guide you through the process. The new provision here allows more parties in the state of Maryland to capitalize on the benefits of the mutual consent process. Mutual consent potentially allows you to go through a divorce in less time and with less hassle and stress down the road. However, you still need to make sure you do things the right way and cover all your bases.