Property Division, Sharing & The Matrimonial Home

U.S. State May Allow Divorcing Couples to Live Sexlessly Under the Same Roof

laying in bed
Written by Russell Alexander ria@russellalexander.com / (905) 655-6335

U.S. State May Allow Divorcing Couples to Live Sexlessly Under the Same Roof

As was reported recently by a Maryland news source, married couples in that state who plan to formally end their union may have an easier time of meeting the legal threshold for doing so.

Currently, the eligibility requirements for filing for a divorce require spouses to prove they have experienced or orchestrated a “separation of affection” between them for a full year. Traditionally, that has seen divorcing couples physically distancing themselves from each other, usually with one spouse moving out of the matrimonial home and getting his or her own residence.

But under proposed legislation heard in the Maryland House of Delegates recently, such disaffected couples may be allowed to continue to live under the same roof during that requisite “separation of affection” period – provided there is also a lack of sexual intimacy during that entire time.

In other words:  They can still live together for the yearlong eligibility period, as long as there is no sex.

The rationale behind this suggested change is to recognize that – as their first step towards divorce – spouses may be genuinely eager to physically separate, but may not be in the financial position to do so.  The proposal thus loosens up the divorce prerequisites in Maryland only slightly, and augments the other available grounds which include infidelity, insanity, abuse, and desertion.

Critics of the proposed legislation have pointed out that proof of a yearlong, sexless cohabitation arrangement may be hard to come by.  However, its proponents counter that Maryland courts already exercise discretion around deciding whether the “separation of affection” element has been met – with or without the sex – so this would merely add a specific threshold element to that existing determination.

It’s an interesting legislative proposition, and an economically-practical one.  Do you think this kind of loosening of divorce eligibility should be considered and potentially adopted in Canadian Family Law?  What are your thoughts?

Stay in Touch

Keep learning about the latest issues in Ontario family law! Subscribe to our latest articles delivered to your inbox, or listen to our Podcast Family Law Now.

Be sure to find out more about the "new normal", by visiting our Covid-19 and Divorce Information Centre.

About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the founder of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers and is the firm’s senior partner. At Russell Alexander, our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues, including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. We have locations in Toronto, Markham, Whitby (Brooklin), Lindsay, and Peterborough.

For more information, visit our website, or you can call us at: 905-655-6335.