Grounds For Divorce
• Adultery – defined by case law as voluntary sexual intercourse, which involves some degree of penetration of the female organ by the male organ, with a person other than the offender’s spouse. Flood v. Flood, 24 Md. App. 395, 330 A.2d 715 715 (1975).
• Actual desertion – a party leaving the marital home with no intention of returning or if a party forces the other party to leave the marital home.
• Constructive desertion – when a person’s conduct compels the other to leave in order to preserve his or her health, safety or self-respect.
• 12-month separation – established when the parties live separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months, and the separation is beyond reasonable hope or expectation of a reconciliation.
• 12-month imprisonment under felony or misdemeanor sentence – the party complained against has to be convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor under the laws of Maryland or any other state in the United States and be sentenced to serve at least three years or an indeterminate sentence in any penal institution, 12 months of which sentence have been served.
• Insanity – the person is incurably insane with no hope of recovery as determined by the court from the testimony of at least two physicians who are competent in psychiatry. The insane person must have been confined in a mental institution, hospital or another similar institution for a period of not less than three years prior to filing for divorce.
• Cruelty of treatment toward a complaining party or to a minor child of that complaining party – The court defined cruelty in Scheinin v. Scheinin, 200 Md. 282, 289-90, 89 A.2d 609 (1952), as: any conduct on the part of the husband or wife that is calculated to seriously impair the health or permanently destroy the happiness of the other [or now, a minor child of the other]. Thus, any misconduct of the husband/wife that endangers or creates a reasonable apprehension that it will endanger the spouse’s safety or health to a degree that renders it physically or mentally impracticable for him/her to properly discharge the marital duties.
• Excessively vicious conduct toward a complaining party or to a minor child of that complaining party – Modern cases discuss “excessively vicious conduct” and “cruelty” as if they both mean “cruelty.”