Online Divorce in Maryland
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Divorcing couples need to lay aside all the differences between them to benefit from getting an uncontested divorce. Most spouses are not willing to cooperate, though. The divorce process, in that case, costs more money and takes more time alike.
Since it’s more likely that you will have to go to court when ending your marriage, read on to find everything you need to know before filing for divorce. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the divorce process in Maryland.
Valid Grounds To Get Divorce
Maryland is one of the very few states that offer two kinds of divorce: absolute and limited. While there are certain similarities, each of these concepts has different outcomes.
- Absolute divorce: The marriage is eventually terminated in this case. Absolute divorce involves a wide range of grounds, including desertion, adultery, insanity, voluntary separation, imprisonment for a crime, mutual consent, the conviction of a felony, as well as excessively vicious conduct and cruelty. Valid grounds to get a no-fault absolute divorce include mutual consent and 12-month separation.
- Limited divorce: This type of divorce functions as a formal separation so that the marriage is not ended indeed. The grounds or reasons for limited divorce include separation, desertion, and excessively vicious conduct or cruel treatment by the defendant towards the plaintiff or his/her child. There mustn’t be any expectation or hope for future reconciliation in a voluntary separation or actual desertion.
How To Get A Divorce In Maryland
If you plan to file for divorce in Maryland, whether it is limited or absolute, you should first get familiar with the Maryland Code, Family Law § 7-103. There are many divorce-related issues covered by this Md. Code besides legal grounds.
It includes everything you would ever want to know about divorce in Martland, from adultery to the cruelty of treatment to actual and constructive desertion. This all-inclusive Family Code consists of two segments:
- 7-103 (1) Protective orders
- 7-103 (2) Child support & custody
Getting a divorce without children is a breeze since there are no issues like child custody or child support to deal with. Unlike the divorcing couples who share minor children, you and your spouse will be able to skip the twelve-month separation period when filing for a mutual consent divorce.
That makes things a whole lot easier for couples without children in common. However, they still need to reach an agreement on the division of marital property.
To get an uncontested mutual consent divorce, spouses with minor children must forgo the 1-year separation period. They also need to resolve every financial issue between them, which may include:
Maryland Family Laws
Just like in other states, Maryland has specific legal requirements defined by family laws, such as residency requirements, waiting period, and no-fault grounds. This wide field of law includes everything from annulment to child support to foster care to custody and visitation.
Here, we will focus on the most common family law issues that divorcing couples face when ending their marriage.
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony
As you may already know, spousal support (also known as maintenance or alimony) is the financial support one ex-spouse gives to the other one on a regular basis. These payments are made following or during the divorce process.
Either party can get alimony. Who will obtain alimony depends largely on the financial situation of each spouse. Remember that there’s no spousal support calculator in Maryland. When calculating alimony, the judge weighs the particular circumstance and needs of both parties.
Before getting spousal support or alimony in Maryland, spouses must enter into a Property Settlement Agreement.
Custody and Visitation
It is important to note that parenting time is prone to modifications as time passes and children grow up. If the visitation schedule doesn’t suit children’s or parents’ needs anymore, the judge will consider changing the custody order.
You can open a child custody case by completing a Complaint for Custody. That will make the court consider granting you custody based on the legally defined guidelines. Be sure to file this document in the Circuit Court where you or your children live.
Every parent is obligated to financially support his or her child(ren) after getting a divorce. It is supposed to meet the financial requirements of the minor children.
To establish child support in Maryland, you need to get a court order first. A child support request can be incorporated in either a custody or divorce case.
Divorcing couples should use a child support calculator when estimating their payments. Your child support will depend on your gross monthly income, the number of children, the amount of monthly alimony, daycare costs, etc.
Maryland Divorce Papers and Forms
If you wish to open or initiate a divorce case in Maryland, you will need to file:
Those responding to a divorce case need to use the Complaint for Absolute/Limited Divorce (CC-DR-020 or CC-DR-021) and the Answer (CC-DR-050).
In addition, some divorcing couples should also file a Joint Statement of the Parties Concerning Marital and Non-Marital Property (CC-DR-033), Civil Domestic Information Report (CC-DCM-001), settlement agreement, and financial forms.
You can find all of these papers and forms online. That allows you to prepare divorce documentation yourself without a lawyer and save money. Depending on which online services you use and what documents you need to prepare, this may take you from 3 to 7 days.
Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in Maryland
A no-fault or uncontested divorce is a perfect solution for divorcing spouses without allegations of fault. They need to agree on marital issues like alimony, custody, child support, and property division.
Suppose the valid grounds for your divorce took place in another state. In that case, you or your spouse must have resided for a minimum of 6 months in this state before applying for an uncontested divorce. Check Md. Code, Family Law, § 7-101 for more information.
What if I Have Contested Divorce?
Many spouses have a tough time arriving at a win-win agreement on essential issues that require resolution. The “hot-button topics” usually include property division, debt allocation, asset distribution, and custody.
As a result, they are not able to get the marriage terminated conclusively. The contested divorce is the best option for most trial court cases. If you have contested divorce, your dispute will be adjudicated by the district court in Maryland.
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How to File Divorce Papers in Maryland
This will depend on whether you are the respondent or complaint. The respondent is required to respond to a divorce case within:
- 30 days if they live in Maryland
- 60 days if they live outside Maryland
- 90 days if they lived outside the United States
Your divorce papers and forms should be filed in the local circuit court. It needs to be located in the county where either spouse lives. If you need help when filing your divorce paperwork, reach out to Maryland Legal Aid.
File your divorce paperwork
Where to get started as a plaintiff or complaint? To begin your divorce process, you need to complete and file a Complaint for Absolute/Limited Divorce as well as the Civil Domestic Case Information Report.
After filing these documents, you will get a Writ of Summons (the court clerk will issue it). Be sure to serve these two papers must to your spouse (defendant). Make multiple copies of all the divorce papers you need to file so that you keep one or two copies for yourself after serving your spouse.
Serve your spouse
The spouse who files the initial Complaint has to provide the other party with copies of the divorce paperwork. Besides, the complaint is also required to give proof that his/her spouse got copies of everything filed with the court.
This involves mailing copies to the responding spouse via a private process server or county sheriff. No matter what person you use for this purpose, make sure the local court is notified that the copies have been mailed or delivered properly.
Completing financial statements is something that each spouse must get done when filing for divorce in Maryland. They need to disclose info on their liabilities, assets, incomes, debts, and expenses.
In the case of alimony and/or child support, the divorce court relies on the info stated in these documents when making orders. That said, make sure every financial information is 100% accurate.
Property Division in Maryland
Please note that the property isn’t always divided between the divorcing spouses by practicing a 50/50 split. Just like in other equitable distribution states, the marital properties are divided fairly rather than equally.
The property division often involves a monetary award. This court order requires one party/spouse to provide financial support to the other party/spouse.
How To Serve Divorce Papers In Maryland
As mentioned above, the respondent must be served with copies of the writ of summons and a Complaint for Absolute/Limited Divorce. He or she may receive these documents from:
- A private process server
- Local county sheriff
- Any person over 18 years of age other than the plaintiff’s spouse
How To Get A Divorce In Maryland Without A Lawyer
Uncontested divorces can be handled without an attorney. More complicated divorce cases, on the other hand, require consulting an experienced attorney. Expert assistance is particularly useful in the case of substantial assets and minor children. You may also call the Maryland Court Help Center for advice.
If you are on a low budget, try to reach an agreement with your spouse and go through your divorce without hiring an attorney. Many couples choose to end the marriage on their own today. That’s because do-it-yourself divorce has a lot of benefits.
However, it is only advisable for uncontested divorces. Keep scrolling for more information on how to complete your divorce online.
File Divorce Papers Online
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Based on the info you’ve provided through an online interview, you will get forms tailored for your specific case. Then you should fill out the documents correctly (you will receive filing instructions) and file them online at your convenience.
It takes approximately 30 minutes to go through the whole process. Some of the advantages of this online service include:
- Easy and quick process
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Check if You Qualify
How much does a divorce cost in Maryland?
The divorce in Maryland costs proximately $14,000. However, this figure varies widely from country to country. It also depends on what’s involved in your divorce case and lawyer fees if you decide to hire a divorce attorney.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Maryland?
A contested divorce may take up to 18 months after filing, while uncontested divorces in Maryland take from 2 to 3 months on average.
How can I get a copy of my divorce in Maryland?
Divorcing couples should contact or go to the Circuit Court (in the place where their divorce has been finalized) and ask for copies of their divorce decree.
Do my spouse and I need to live in Maryland to get a divorce?
One of the spouses must live in Maryland in order to get a divorce. If the legal grounds for your divorce happened in another state, you or your spouse must have resided for 6 or more months in this state before applying for a divorce.
Can I still get a divorce if my spouse doesn’t want to get one?
Yes, you can. Maryland is a state that doesn’t force divorcing couples to stay together if someone doesn’t want to be married anymore. Bear in mind that it will complicate your process.