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Some Things Change and Some Things Stay the Same: Family Law Bills in the 2016 Legislative Session

By: Ferrier R. Stillman

While several family law bills were introduced during Maryland’s annual legislative session, the General Assembly only passed one. However, for those who are going through a divorce, the law that was passed will bring some relief from one difficult step in the divorce process.

In Maryland, even after settling their case and resolving all issues between themselves, divorcing couples have one more hurdle to jump: the hearing before a judge or magistrate. Making this experience even more difficult was the fact that a corroborating witness was needed to testify at the hearing. This witness had to be able to state, under oath, that the parties had truly lived separately for the previous year. Divorce clients often felt embarrassed having to ask a friend or family member to testify in open court about what should have been a private aspect of their lives.

The bill passed this year by the Maryland General Assembly eliminated the requirement for a corroborating witness. This will make an already difficult process easier for people who are ready to move on with their lives.

Unfortunately, the legislature did not pass a bill that would have allowed divorce by mutual consent for parties with minor children. This means that parents of minor children will still have to be separated a year before they can file for divorce even if they have reached a settlement and resolved all issues between them. This was the second time that this bill failed.  However, some legislators have promised to bring this bill up again next year and, hopefully, the third time will be the charm.

If you have any questions about this article or other family law issues, please contact Ferrier R. Stillman at email or 410.752.9731 or another member of the family law department for a consultation or meeting in either the Baltimore or Towson offices.

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