Legal Considerations You Should Take Into Account if You’ve Met Someone New While Your Maryland Divorce is Still Pending

When, it comes to marriages, relationships, and divorces, some issues and situations are universal, as a recent divorce case from overseas demonstrates. Even though this court case came from India, much of the circumstances involved could easily have happened in Maryland. While those marital scenarios and pitfalls may be largely universal, the law definitely is not. The distinctions and differences between the law of one place versus another are a crucial reason why having an experienced Maryland divorce attorney on your side is essential when you are seeking to end your marriage in this state.

The Indian case, reported by CNBC TV18, involved a marriage that reportedly was troubled nearly from the start. The spouses became estranged “within a few months of marriage,” then one of the spouses met someone new and that pair began “staying together in a live-in relationship,” according to the report.

The new couple had many questions. Could they continue living together while the divorce was pending? Could they get married before the divorce judgment was finalized? According to Indian law, this Indian couple could continue living together, but they could not get married before the finalization of the divorce without placing the married partner in potential legal peril for bigamy.

Here in Maryland, a married person might encounter similar problems. Roughly 10% of U.S. marriages fail within the first two years. Some of those are couples who marry, become estranged, and separate very quickly.

So, what happens if you meet someone new and want to enter into a committed relationship but you’re still married to your estranged spouse? What happens if you have no idea where your spouse went after you separated?

These types of issues sometimes can present procedural complications in divorce, which is where having the right legal team can be invaluable. Your divorce judge cannot bar you from starting a new dating relationship before your case is finalized, but if you do that, that new relationship can affect your divorce financially. Your spouse may use that relationship to argue that you spent marital funds on your new partner, thereby improperly dissipating marital wealth. If your spouse proves this, then he/she may get a more favorable judgment in terms of asset distribution and/or a monetary payment.

Additionally, being in a committed relationship before your divorce goes final could be construed as adultery and, in Maryland, adultery can be a permissible basis for awarding you a lesser amount of alimony or ordering you to pay more alimony if you’re deemed to have been the adulterer.

How to Get Divorced When You Don’t Know Where Your Spouse Lives

As we noted above, some people struggle when they’ve met someone new but they have lost all contact with a long-estranged spouse whom they’ve not yet divorced. If that’s you, you can still get a divorce, but there is a special way that you have to go about that.

You can get a divorce through an order of default but, to do that, you first have to give the court some very specific proof that establishes that you made a legitimate, good faith attempt to locate your long-lost spouse. That evidence goes into something called an “Affidavit of Diligent Search.”

Also, every case requires that the defendant receive notice of the action. Depending on the specifics of your case, your judge may permit you to complete the notice requirement through a process called “Service by Publication or Posting,” but you first have to get the judge’s permission to do this. Then you publish notice of your divorce filing in a manner consistent with the local court rules.

These requirements can be very technical, minute, and detailed and, sometimes, even a minor error can be a major roadblock on the path of getting the divorce you desire. To avoid those roadblocks, get in touch with the knowledgeable Maryland family law attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC. We are here to provide the legal assistance you need every step of the way. To learn more about how we can assist you, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.

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