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Does infidelity affect equitable distribution in Maryland?

Marital infidelity is a very common occurrence and a primary reason for many divorces across the country. However, Maryland has not followed in the footsteps of many states that have effectively abolished adultery as grounds for filing for dissolution of a marriage. A claim of adultery is in fact a valid one for initiating a fault-based divorce in the state of Maryland.

An allegation of infidelity can be especially important when dealing with high asset divorces. When a couple that has acquired substantial assets is facing a divorce, the process of equitable distribution can be greatly influenced by the conduct of the parties, if one party asserts that the other has been unfaithful during the marriage. This is especially true if the cheater has expended great amounts of money on an extra-marital affair that would have otherwise been contributed to the couples' mutual financial well-being during the marriage.

Additionally, if great mental anguish has been inflicted on the victim of a cheating spouse as a result of the affair, the courts will take this behavior into consideration when determining the appropriate division of assets and property.

The other "fault" based grounds for divorce in Maryland are:

• A spouse that exhibits cruelty toward the other spouse or a minor child

• One spouse's conviction of certain crimes

• A spouse who has been required to spend at least three years in a mental institution due to insanity

• A spouse that exhibits "excessively vicious" conduct toward the other spouse or toward a minor child

• One spouse's abandonment of another spouse for at least one year

For other Maryland couples who do not choose to file a divorce based on fault, a "no fault" based divorce can be filed after the couple has been physically separated from one another for at least 12 months.

Filing for a divorce in Maryland can be a highly complex matter. Seeking competent legal representation can help obtain the best possible outcome.

Source: YAHOO! Finance, "Does cheating cost you in a divorce?," Geoff Williams, Dec. 18, 2012

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