The Difference between Limited Divorce and Absolute Divorce

Limited Divorce and Absolute Divorce

Couples in Maryland planning to separate and divorce can choose between two options. They can either get a limited divorce or an absolute divorce. Most people are unaware of the difference between these two types of divorces. Knowing them beforehand can help them make the right decision and make divorce proceedings more streamlined.

What is a Limited Divorce?

Limited divorce or legal separation isnít a divorce. Courts use limited divorce to supervise and legalize the separation of a couple and provide financial support. A couple in the middle of a limited divorce canít have a physical or intimate relationship with each other or with another person. If they have a physical or intimate relationship with another person outside of their marriage, the court will consider it adultery.

Additionally, couples can live with each other even though the law still considers them as legally married. If they own a property together, then that property will still be owned by both. The state of Maryland doesnít require couples to choose limited divorce to move on to absolute divorce, which means couples can immediately file for divorce. A limited divorce allows couples to discuss and settle their differences and come to a mutual agreement on the divorceís terms and conditions.

Requirements for Limited Divorce

Although couples will easily qualify for legal separation than they would for absolute divorce, the court still requires them to meet the following requirements to file for it:

  • Either the wife or husband deserted the other partner.
  • The couple no longer lives together or hasnít had any physical or intimate relations for less than a year or twelve months.
  • One of the partners abused a child.
  • One of the partners abused the other person.

What Is Absolute Divorce?

Absolute divorce refers to the complete dissolution of the coupleís marriage. Under absolute divorce, the couple is no longer married to each other, and they are legally free to see other people. Absolute divorce addresses child and spousal support, custody agreements, property issues, and other issues. Couples seeking absolute divorce need to prove the reason for divorce before the court can grant it to them.

Requirements for Absolute Divorce

The requirements for absolute divorce include:

  • The couple hasnít lived together continuously for at least one year or twelve months.
  • Other reasons for absolute divorce include:
    • Criminal convictions
    • Insanity
    • Unjustly malicious conduct
    • Abuse
    • Adultery

Couples that donít meet the criteria for absolute divorce will first need to file for limited divorce before getting legally divorced.  However, limited divorce isnít a requirement for absolute divorce.

Should You Select Limited Divorce or Absolute Divorce?

You canít go for absolute divorce if you donít have the grounds to file for absolute divorce, you need financial relief, and/or youíre unable to settle your differences with your partner privately. In several instances, a limited divorce will be beneficial, as it can resolve several concerns of both parties. These include:

  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Division real and personal property

If the court orders a couple to file for limited divorce first, you should know that you canít remarry. However, you can use this time to settle property disputes, child custody and support claims, and alimony.

A limited divorce can either be temporary or permanent, and the court holds the right to revoke it at any time if the husband and wife both apply to end limited divorce and stay married. The court also determines the person who is at fault. The legal separation starts from the date the court granted a limited divorce.

Since couples have to wait 12 months to legally part ways, it can take a toll on both partners physically, mentally, and financially. If they want to dissolve their marriage without the year-long wait, they can do that by applying for mutual consent divorce.

What is Mutual Consent Divorce?

Marylandís mutual consent divorce is for couples with or without children. When it was first introduced, it was only for couples without children. In 2018, these changes and now, couples with children can also choose this option to end their marriage quickly. The mutual consent divorce provides the couple with a shortcut to finalize their divorce, given they had already figured out their affairs and divided their assets among each other.

Mutual consent divorce allows parents to discuss and agree on issues regarding the legal and physical custody of their children, visitation rights, and child support. However, completing the process of mutual consent divorce is complicated.

Instead of the court being responsible for decisions regarding child custody and property issues, the couple will be responsible for making them. If either partner requests the court to put aside the settlement before the filing of absolute divorce with the court finding a valid reason to agree to it, youíll need to start all over.

The court can refuse your request to set your agreement to the side. The court may also reject your request to file for a mutual consent divorce or acknowledge your written divorce agreement if it doesnít meet the requirements of the mutual consent divorce. Couples who want to dissolve their marriage quickly and donít want to deal with such a long waiting period can file for mutual consent divorce through a reputable and experienced divorce lawyer in Maryland.

By hiring a lawyer to represent you, you can get a quick divorce, as the divorce lawyer reviews your divorce agreement for its shortcomings and then submits all the correct paperwork to the court to avoid delays in the divorce process.


Whether youíre seeking a limited divorce, absolution divorce, or mutual consent divorce, you should consider hiring a divorce attorney to streamline the entire process. If you want something specific out of your divorce, a divorce attorney can help you negotiate with your partnerís attorney. In the end, the type of divorce you file for depends on your current circumstances and reasons for divorce.

About Author: The Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman LLC†practices family law. The law firm helps clients negotiate the terms and conditions of their divorce and serve as a family law mediator and parent coordinator to provide its clients with alternative forms of dispute resolution.