In October of 2015, the Maryland Legislature added a new ground for divorce by mutual consent, if the parties do not have any minor children. The parties must have a written and signed agreement that settles all matters between them, including alimony and any property issues. Neither party may file any document with the court seeking to overturn the written agreement. Both parties must appear “before the court” to give testimony to support the mutual consent divorce.
Appearing “before the court” has different meanings depending on the jurisdiction. In Frederick County, the testimony for the mutual consent divorce may be taken by the court or by a court examiner, who is an attorney appointed by the court to take testimony for uncontested cases. Washington County requires parties who have not been separated for one year to appear before a judge or magistrate to give testimony to support to the mutual consent divorce. This requirement for testimony to support the mutual consent divorce may be done differently in other jurisdictions and it may be subject to change as the courts become more familiar with this new divorce ground.
Parties with minor children must still be separated for one year prior to filing for an absolute divorce, unless there are other grounds for the divorce.