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Can same-sex couples cite adultery as a ground for divorce?

As some of our more frequent blog readers know, Maryland is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. This means that couples seeking the dissolution of their marriage do not have to have grounds for divorce. Citing irreconcilable differences and waiting the 12-month separation period is acceptable.

This does not mean, however, that couples cannot cite fault grounds when seeking divorce. One of the more common ones seen is adultery, though there are others than can be used as reason for seeking a divorce.

Until quite recently though, same-sex couples have been left asking a seemingly simple question: Can same-sex couples cite adultery as a ground for divorce? We say "seemingly" because this question was actually quite complex because of our state laws. This complexity has since been eliminated, giving way to the answer of yes.

Nearly three months ago, a law went into effect here in Maryland that recognizes cheating by a same-sex partner as adultery and thereby grounds for divorce. The past iteration of the law made it confusing as to whether or not the law applied to same-sex couples, because the law only mentioned a relationship with a husband and wife at the time.

Though clarification of the law will help in same-sex divorces, it may not make the process any easier. Like with opposite-sex divorces, all of the same issues persist such as who should get which marital assets and who should have primary custody of the children, just to name a couple. So while the law has been clarified, couples may still need an attorney to help make the process more understandable and amicable in the end.

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