Maryland Divorce Mediation

Nancy Caplan, Esquire

Divorce Mediation MD - FAQs > Legal Separation in Maryland
Legal Separation in Maryland




If you seek a “Legal Separation” in Maryland, you may have your legal terms mixed up.  There is no “Legal Separation” in Maryland. 


Typically, when non-lawyers look for a “Legal Separation in Maryland” they seek a Marital Settlement Agreement to be approved by a Maryland Court, which resolves all questions relating to what happens when parties decide to separate and/or plan to divorce in Maryland. These issues include but are not limited to  child custody, child visitation, child support, alimony, spousal support, family home issues, health insurance, division of household property, such as automobiles, bank accounts, debts,  pensions, retirement accounts, tax filings, tax dependency exemptions,  etc.


The term “Legal Separation” has no real context in Maryland- once married, you are either married or divorced.  The term “Legal Separation” in Maryland most closely relates to a Court-ordered “Limited Divorce.”   People may seek a “Limited Divorce” through a costly trial in Court, where: the parties require resolution of child or financial issues but no “grounds for the divorce” exist (i.e. the one-year “voluntary separation” time period has not yet concluded) and the parties are unable to come to an Marital Settlement Agreement privately. 


A Maryland Marital Settlement Agreement by is also known as a  “Property Settlement Agreement” or “Voluntary Separation Agreement” or some combination of those terms.   The purpose behind the “Separation Agreement” (also a popular term for this type of Agreement) is settle all issues arising from the separation and marital dissolution of the parties.  Thereafter, when the parties seek the actual severance of the marital ties known as “divorce” typically there are no “contested” issues and the divorce proceeds on the fast, “uncontested” track, after the statutory separation period has passed.  It means there doesn’t need to be a costly and lengthy trial in court on the issues.  The time period of the separation depends on the grounds for divorce.  


See relating to “grounds for divorce” in Maryland:



However, there is no “legal separation” in Maryland.  The Marital Settlement Agreement may be “legally binding”, but whether the separation itself is legal or illegal is not really a proper question in Maryland. Does having a signed Separation and Marital Settlement Agreement mean it is “ok” to date?   Does getting a Court-Ordered Limited Divorce mean it is “ok” to date?  The short answer is you are still married.  What is the effect of adultery when there is a signed Agreement?   See:




This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain general legal principles.  However this is not  “legal advice.”  “Legal Advice” can be defined as the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you must consult an attorney / lawyer.


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