2018 has been the Session of “Mutual Consent”, with four (4) bills proposing to change the Mutual Consent ground for divorce.
SB120 proposes to eliminate the exclusion of no minor children in common, so making the Mutual Consent ground for divorce available to all Marylanders who settle their divorces with a written, signed agreement resolving all their issues. This passed the Senate and has crossed over to the House for further hearing. The no minor children exclusion originated in the House Judiciary Committee, so one wonders if its thinking has changed.
SB96 proposes to eliminate the requirement that both spouses appear at the Mutual Consent divorce hearing. This is the only ground for divorce that requires the appearance of both spouses. This passed the Senate, crossed over to the House, and was heard by House Judiciary Committee. Since House Judiciary created this requirement when Mutual Consent passed in 2015, curious to see if House Judiciary will be willing to remove this.
HB1034 proposes to eliminate the requirement of no minor children in common from the Mutual Consent divorce ground for military members only. This is a narrower proposed change than SB120. Heard in House Judiciary Committee, HB1034 has received no Committee report and no full House vote. With the crossover date having passed, it is unlikely this bill will progress any further in the 2018 Session. If SB120 passes, there would be no need to revive HB1034 in future.
HB1157 proposed to allow Mutual Consent divorce when the parties put an oral agreement on the record in open court. Currently, Mutual Consent divorce requires a written, signed settlement agreement resolving all issues (for spouses who do not have minor children in common). HB1157 was withdrawn without a hearing. Perhaps as the Mutual Consent ground for divorce evolves, this will be reintroduced in a later Session.
Look for my update after Session ends on April 9, 2018 about whether SB120 and SB96 passed into law. If so, these will go into effect October 1, 2018.
Since 2002, Lindsay Parvis has represented clients in Maryland custody, divorce, and marital matters. She negotiates, litigates, and advocates for the best interests of her clients, whether in contested litigation, uncontested settlement, or premarital and other agreements. Her clients are not only spouses and parents, but also children whose interests she is appointed by the court to represent in contested custody litigation. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke and University of Baltimore School of Law. Lindsay strives to improve Maryland law in the General Assembly, volunteering her time to monitor, advocate, and educate about legislative developments in family law.