2018 has been a busy year in divorce law. Before the half-way point in the year, we saw the first major change on a national landscape with the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This bill made it so, that starting in 2019, alimony will be paid out of post-tax dollars and the recipient of alimony would not be taxed on the funds they receive. Now in Maryland, two new bills will go into effect creating another layer of change for couples starting in October of this year (2018).
The New Maryland Divorce Laws
In 2016, Maryland divorce law introduced mutual consent divorce. This new law allowed for couples to get a mutual consent divorce if they met these conditions:
- They must have no minor children in common.
- They must sign and submit to the court a written settlement agreement covering alimony and property rights.
- Neither party can file a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing.
- Both must appear at the uncontested divorce hearing.
Now with Senate bills 96 and 120 passed, there will be changes to two of these listed conditions.
Senate Bill 96: Divorce on Grounds of Mutual Consent – Court Appearance
SB 96 repeals the condition that “both parties must appear before the court at an absolute divorce hearing in order for the court to decree an absolute divorce on the grounds of mutual consent.”
Senate Bill 120: Divorce on Grounds of Mutual Consent – Parties with Minor Children
The new SB 120 allows couples with a child or children adopted or born to the marriage to get a divorce on the grounds of mutual consent divorce, but only under these circumstances:
- Couples are required to have a settlement agreement to provide for the care, custody, access, and support of any child or children adopted or born to the marriage
- Couples are required to attach completed child support guidelines worksheet to the settlement agreement
- The court must review and approve of any terms of the agreement relating to any minor child or children adopted or born to the marriage to ensure that it is in the best interests of the child/children to decree an absolute divorce on the grounds of mutual consent
The grounds of mutual consent divorce, with the passing of these two bills, allows for many more couples to consider this route. It is always key to remember that this option may not be for everyone. You should always consult a knowledgeable divorce law firm to see what all your options are, and which one is best for your situation. At Shah & Kishore, we work closely with you to give you a full list of options including mediation.
Make sure to check the Shah & Kishore Family Law blog regularly for more updates on changes to the family law landscape.
To learn more about how we can help you with your particular situation, please email or call us today at (301) 715-3838 to set up your FREE consultation.