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Highlights of Family Law Bills in the 2018 Session of the General Assembly

July 2018

By: Ferrier R. Stillman and Kerianne P. Kemmerzell

The 2018 Session of the Maryland General Assembly considered several bills that impact divorcing couples and the practice of family law.

Mutual Consent Divorce:  Currently, married couples can forgo the one-year separation period and file for a divorce on the grounds of mutual consent as long as they have a written separation agreement, but only if they have no minor children. This law has now changed. Beginning October 1, 2018, married couples who have minor children will also be able to forgo the one-year separation period and obtain a divorce on mutual consent grounds.  There is still the requirement of a written separation agreement and that agreement must not only resolve all financial issues between the parties, but also resolve custody, access, and support of the minor children.

Domestic Violence:  A bill aimed to protect victims of domestic violence will take effect October 1, 2018.  Defendants who have been convicted of domestically-related offenses will be required to surrender all regulated firearms, rifles, or shotguns to law enforcement or to a federally licensed dealer, within two business days. If prosecutors or law enforcement agents have probable cause to believe that a defendant has failed to surrender all firearms, rifles, or shotguns, the court may issue a search warrant for the retrieval and removal of such weapons.

Adultery:  A bill to decriminalize adultery was considered, but ultimately did not pass. As it stands now, adultery remains a criminal offense in the State of Maryland.  However, given how rarely it is enforced, the fact that it is a criminal offense has little or no impact in criminal cases; but it could still have an impact on divorce cases.

If you have any questions about this update or other family law issues, please contact Ferrier R. Stillman or Kerianne P. Kemmerzell of the Tydings’ family law department. The firm has offices in downtown Baltimore and in Towson.

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