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Bill Would End Need for Witnesses in Certain Maryland Divorces

There are two ways to get a divorce in Maryland. The first is to allege fault, in which one spouse states that the other was unfaithful or abusive or committed another wrong. The second requires no allegation of fault; the couple must only prove that they have lived apart for at least one continuous year. A bill working its way through the Maryland legislature seeks to make no-fault divorces even simpler by removing a requirement that forced the couple to find someone to testify that they hadn’t lived or slept together during the past year. While the House of Delegates passed the bill this March, the bill has not yet made its way through the Maryland Senate.

Those in favor of the bill believe that the requirement of having a witness testify that spouses hadn’t recently lived together or slept together is antiquated and unnecessary. Currently, couples often needing to have one of their children or relatives testify to their abstinence, a prospect that is difficult at best, often embarrassing, and flawed. Unless the witness was with one of the people involved in the divorce at all times during the preceding year, he or she cannot actually know whether a tryst occurred.

Many who oppose the changes believe that the current system helps protect people from a financially advantaged or overbearing spouse who might seek to quickly push a divorce agreement through the court system to the detriment of the other spouse. Forcing them to find someone to come in and testify can slow the process and allow the courts to monitor it more closely.

If you are considering a divorce or have been served with divorce papers by your spouse, contact the skilled La Plata family law attorneys at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.

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