The state of Maryland has already had in place what is known as mutual consent as a grounds for absolute divorce proceedings. This has proven to be beneficial for parties who opted to use it, and now, the General Assembly of the state has updated the policy to make it more inclusive and open to a larger number of people. It’s important to be aware of the updated bill, how it may apply to you, and what it means for parties headed towards divorce.
Mutual consent as it was originally introduced allowed for parties without minor children to bypass the mandated one year separation period in the state, and move straight to a final, absolute divorce. In order to do so, the two had to come to terms in a signed, written separation agreement. This agreement needed to settle all related matters to the divorce, including alimony and the division of property. Once the agreement was signed, as long as neither party filed to set it aside, the two simply needed to show up at 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 aged children to pursue 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 handle all matters pertaining to the children.
As the bill states in its exact words, “the care, custody, access, and support of minor or dependent children.” If the agreement calls for the payment of child support, then a child support worksheet must also be attached. The court now also gets a bit of a final say on matters when minor children are involved. They have to determine whether the agreement is in the best interests of the children. If they do make that determination, then the absolute divorce is granted via mutual consent.
Of course, before taking any further action it’s always best to seek out 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 allows you to potentially move through a divorce in less time, and with less hassle and stress along the way. However, you still need to make sure you are doing things the correct way and are covering all of your bases.