Each January, the Maryland General Assembly convenes to begin its legislative session. During the session, the MSBA not only monitors hundreds of bills but also supports legislation that protects the legal profession, preserves the integrity of the judicial system, and ensures access to justice for Marylanders. The MSBA’s practice-based Sections and Laws Committee regularly offers insight and perspective to legislators on the potential impact of bills as well. 

The MSBA’s advocacy takes many forms, including drafting bills and amendments, providing testimony and advice to legislators, mobilizing MSBA members on priority bills, and convening our members and legislators. Throughout the 2023 session, the MSBA provided bi-weekly bill reports to members with relevant bills and held weekly calls with Section legislative liaisons to discuss advocacy strategies and priority issues. The MSBA regularly features advocacy content and updates through our various channels, including our website, e-weekly, Section newsletters, Maryland Bar Journal, and social media.The MSBA was pleased that several of our priority bills passed this year. Several other bills impacting the legal profession passed as well. 

The following bill, which affects attorneys practicing family law, is now in effect as of October 1, 2023.

Family Law – Grounds for Divorce (HB14/SB36)

HB14/SB36 altered the grounds for which the Maryland courts can issue a limited or absolute divorce decree. In part, HB14/SB36 provides that parties can live “separate and apart” for purposes of obtaining an absolute divorce, even if they reside under the same roof, and allows parties to obtain divorces based on irreconcilable differences, which is commonly referred to as no-fault divorce.  

The MSBA’s Family Law Section led a significant effort to allow for divorces based on no-fault grounds, noting that the bill “will streamline Maryland’s current divorce law and allow our citizens to file and obtain divorces with less waiting time, less expense and less acrimony.”

All purchasers of Maryland Divorce & Separation Law, 11th Edition, will receive a downloadable Supplement to Chapter 1: Divorce. This supplement includes an overview of the substantial changes to Maryland’s divorce law effective October 1, 2023, including the repeal of limited divorce; the deletion of fault-based grounds such as fault-based grounds for divorce such as adultery, desertion, and cruelty of treatment, and the addition of grounds for a divorce based on irreconcilable differences.