After October 2015, Maryland has a new ground for divorce, called mutual consent divorce. Under mutual consent divorce, parties that would have formerly been entitled to a limited divorce, can now seek the relief of an absolute divorce without waiting the one-year separation period. Spouses seeking a divorce by mutual consent must enter into a settlement agreement that is filed with the complaint.
Under the October 2015 rules to be eligible for a mutual consent divorce, the parties could have no minor children in common and had to appear together to obtain the divorce.
Effective October 2018, spouses with children are also eligible for mutual consent. In addition to the settlement agreement, parties with children need to complete child support guidelines for consideration by the court. Parties can agree to the amount in the guidelines, or through counsel or on their own ask the court to deviate from guidelines. The judge must find that any deviation is in the best interest of the child.
Settlement agreements for parties with children must, in addition to child support, deal with the issues of custody and visitation. Additionally, all parties, with or without children, must consider other factors in the settlement agreement. Settlement agreements distribute marital property and deal with other issues such as alimony.