How To File For Divorce In Maryland

  • 10 Jun 2024

Divorce is a significant legal decision that requires navigating various laws and understanding Maryland’s specific requirements. While the process can be emotionally and legally demanding, knowing the correct steps can make it smoother. Let’s explore how to file for divorce in Maryland, what legal aspects to consider, the divorce process, and the recent updates to Maryland’s divorce laws effective from October 1, 2023.

Legal Matters to Consider When Filing for Divorce in Maryland

Before initiating a divorce, it is crucial to understand the specific laws that will affect the process in Maryland. Divorce laws cover various aspects such as the grounds for divorce, residency requirements, division of property, alimony, and child custody and support.

Residency Requirements

To file for divorce in Maryland, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing. This requirement ensures that the Maryland courts have jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings.

Division of Property

Maryland follows the equitable distribution model for the division of marital property. This means that the court divides marital property in a way that is fair but not necessarily equal. Factors considered include the duration of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse to the marital estate, and the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of division.

Alimony and Child Support

Alimony and child support are significant considerations in any divorce. Alimony may be awarded to one spouse to ensure that neither is left financially destitute. Child support is determined based on the income of both parents, the number of children, and the needs of the children.

Process of Filing for Divorce in Maryland

The first step in the divorce process is to prepare and file a Complaint for Divorce in the circuit court in the county where either spouse resides. The complaint must include statutory information as required by Maryland law.

Serving the Complaint

Once the complaint is filed, the next step is to serve the papers on the other spouse, which can be done via a sheriff, private process server, or, in some cases, by certified mail. The served spouse has the opportunity to respond to the allegations in the complaint, either agreeing with or disputing them.

Waiting Period and Temporary Orders

If the grounds for divorce include a separation period, the spouses must live apart for the specified time before a divorce can be granted. During this time, temporary orders regarding child custody, support, and sometimes alimony may be issued to maintain the status quo until the final hearing.

Final Hearing

The final divorce hearing is where the court will make permanent decisions on issues like property division, alimony, and child custody. If the divorce is uncontested, this process can be relatively quick. However, contested divorces may require extensive legal arguments and proof before a judge.

The Role of a Maryland Divorce Attorney in Uncontested Divorce

In uncontested divorces, where both parties agree on all terms, the role of a divorce attorney is more about ensuring that all legal documents are correctly prepared and filed and that the client’s rights are protected throughout the process. An attorney also helps in negotiating any final details and ensuring that the agreement complies with Maryland law.

New Maryland Divorce Laws – A Summary

The recent changes in Maryland’s divorce laws, effective from October 1, 2023, aim to simplify the divorce process by eliminating limited divorce and focusing on absolute divorces. The key changes include:

  1. Elimination of Limited Divorce – The option of limited divorce, which acted as a form of legal separation, has been removed. This shifts the focus to absolute divorce, emphasizing a complete and permanent separation.
  2. Streamlined Criteria for Absolute Divorce – The new laws reduce the required period of separation from 12 months to 6 months and allow for cohabitation under certain conditions, facilitating a faster and less burdensome process.
  3. Focus on No-Fault Divorce – The revisions encourage a no-fault approach to dissolution, reducing the need for establishing fault, which can accelerate the divorce process and reduce the emotional strain involved.

These changes reflect a significant shift towards making divorce less adversarial and more focused on resolution and moving forward.

Understanding these legal aspects and processes can help those undergoing a divorce in Maryland navigate the complexities of the legal system more effectively, potentially reducing the emotional and financial strain that comes with the dissolution of a marriage.

Our Divorce Lawyers in Maryland Provide Exceptional Legal Services

Are you considering a divorce in Maryland? Contact Law Offices of Sandra Guzman-Salvado at (301) 340-1911 to schedule a consultation and explore your legal options. We serve clients in Rockville, Greenbelt, Bethesda, and Frederick, Maryland. Our divorce lawyers in Maryland are committed to providing you with dedicated and effective legal representation.

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