Planned Changes In The Use Of Witnesses In Uncontested Divorce Cases In Maryland

The process for using witnesses in uncontested divorce cases appears to be ready for a change in Maryland. Uncontested divorces are used when two people agree on all aspects of a divorce and can meet the special requirements necessary to qualify for this status. This is why you need a witness. However, the state legislature is proceeding on rule changes that will affect how witnesses are used in a divorce proceeding. If you are going through an uncontested divorce, here is how a witness is currently used in the proceedings and how they will be used if proposed legislation becomes law.

Current Use of Witnesses

Under current divorce law, one of the special requirements you and your spouse have to meet is that you have lived apart for 12 full months. You can't even spend one night together with your spouse or the clock starts all over again, and you'll have to wait an additional 12 months to get divorced. The only permissible way to prove you and your spouse have not spent one night together is by producing a corroborative witness. The corroborative witness will have to testify under oath that you and your spouse have not spent one night together in the previous year. Finding a corroborative witness that can attest to knowing if you and your spouse spent the night together can be hard and prohibitive.

The corroborative witness can be one of yours or your spouse's parents, a close friend, and even one of your children. The important thing is that the person knows you intimately and is willing to testify that they know details about your private life and what you do on a daily basis. 

Proposed Changes

Under the proposed changes, a witness will no longer be used to verify if you and your spouse have or have not spent a night together at all during the course of a year. Instead, you and your spouse will sign a statement verifying that the both of you attest that you have not spent the night together in the past year. There are currently two bills separately going through the senate and house of the Maryland State Legislature that, if approved, will eliminate the need for a witness to attest to the nightly whereabouts of you and your spouse.

Witness Still Needed

A witness will still be needed to testify on things like how long they have known you, where you live, and how long you have lived there. This is because you still need a witness to verify that you are a legal resident of Maryland – you must be a resident to legally get a divorce in Maryland. Contact a divorce attorney for more information.