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House passes bill that would end witness requirement in Maryland divorce cases

The House of Delegates passed a bill Thursday that would eliminate the need for people seeking an uncontested divorce in Maryland to bring a witness to court to swear the couple hadn't spent a night together in the previous year.

By a 94-45 vote, with most Democrats in favor and most Republicans opposed, the House sent the measure to the Senate.

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A similar but not identical measure has been approved by a Senate committee and is expected to be considered by the full Senate on Friday.

If the Senate passes its bill, the two measures would have to be reconciled before the legislation could go to the governor.

Under Maryland law, the person seeking a divorce has to appear in court when there is an agreement signed by both parties. But the current statute requires that a corroborating witness join the person in court.

Proponents call the provision archaic and a needless inconvenience. During committee deliberations, some opponents voiced concerns about adopting any measure that would make divorce easier.

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