Maryland Divorce FAQs

11/09/2016

Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce in Maryland

Anyone who is facing the possibility of divorce in Maryland likely has many questions swirling through their heads. That's why it's so important to learn more about the process, and of course, to end up working with an experienced, dedicated family law attorney who can help you fight for the outcome and protect your interests.

This guide will explore some of the most pressing concerns and frequently asked questions about Maryland divorce and related issues to get you started in the right direction. It's also to important to recognize that the material presented in this guide relates only to Maryland. Each state has its own laws, regulations, and procedures as far as divorce and family law matters are concerned. Therefore, if you live in another state, the information presented on this page is not valid for you and it will be important to find the correct material for your local area.

This guide was also not written with the intention of purveying official legal counsel or advice, and is instead intended to provide introductory information only.

Types of Divorce in Maryland

There are two types of divorce in Maryland. The ultimate legally decreed final outcome of the divorce process is known as absolute divorce in the state.

Absolute divorce may be achieved by either a contested divorce or uncontested divorce proceeding. There are also various different grounds for filing absolute divorce. Further, one may also file for a limited divorce. All of this will be discussed in more detail in the appropriate sections below.

Mutual Consent Divorce in Maryland

You may also have heard of mutual consent divorce in Maryland. This went into effect at the end of 2015, and offers certain couples a quicker path towards completing the divorce process.

With mutual consent, the parties can obtain a divorce without needing to be separated for 12 months or establishing fault grounds. This applies to couples who do not have children who are currently minors. In order to proceed with this, a written separation agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement, which resolves all issues arising out of the marriage, including but not limited to alimony and division of marital property must also be executed by the Parties and presented to the Court. Additionally, neither party may have moved to set aside the Marital Settlement Agreement, and both parties must be present at the divorce hearing.

Maryland Separation FAQs

  • How long do you have to be separated in Maryland before getting divorced? For a no fault divorce, the state of Maryland requires a 12 month separation period, defined as living separate and without cohabitation, in separate places of abode, with no marital relations, continuously and uninterruptedly over that period.
  • Do I need to file a separation agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement? No, this is not a requirement for proceeding with divorce. However, in many cases this offers swifter and less stressful resolution of certain key issues. Additionally, if you wish to proceed by way of mutual consent, you must have a Separation Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement.

Maryland Divorce Process FAQs

  • What is an uncontested divorce? With an uncontested divorce, the two parties are able to together come to a Marital Settlement Agreement before or during their separation or divorce litigation, without the judge making a ruling and being left to determine the outcome.
  • What is divorce mediation? The mediation process is one alternative for couples who are looking for more control in the outcome of their case, and those who are able to potentially more amicably compromise to try to find mutually beneficial solutions. This is a voluntary process by which a third party serves as mediator between the two individuals, and the discussion itself is not legally binding. If the Parties come to a resolution, the mediator or one of the Parties' attorneys will draft a Marital Settlement Agreement for the Parties to sign.
  • How is child support determined? There are several factors which are ultimately factored in when calculating Maryland child support. This includes the income of both parties, work related day care expenses, ongoing extraordinary medical expenses, and the cost of the monthly health insurance premium to maintain health insurance for the minor child, as well as whether there is shared custody, and the amount of overnights the child spends with each Party. Exceptions to typical calculations may also be made where the Parties' combined income exceeds $15,000.00 per month.
  • What about child custody? There are even more factors which are likely to be considered by the Court in determining child custody. Overall, the key factor is the best interest of the child, but the specifics for how that is determined may vary heavily from case to case. (Consider viewing this guide for more information on Maryland child support and custody questions.)
  • Is irreconcilable differences grounds for divorce in Maryland? Not specifically. As outlined below, a 12 month separation period constitutes grounds for absolute divorce in the state, at which point either party may file for divorce which will be a no fault divorce.
  • What is limited divorce? Limited divorce is a process in which there is a decreed legal separation however the marriage has not been terminated and all property rights have not been determined.

What are the grounds for absolute divorce?

These are the specifically outlined grounds for absolute divorce in Maryland:

  • 12 month separation
  • Cruelty
  • Excessively vicious conduct
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Conviction of certain crimes resulting in incarceration for three years or more
  • Mutual consent (see above)

Depending on the type of divorce complaint being filed and the circumstances involved, varying levels of proof and disclosure may be required.

What's the Next Step For You?

The next step in the process for you should be to meet and consult with an experienced family law attorney in your area, if you haven't already. He or she will be able to discuss your prospective options and what the best way to proceed may be depending on your specific circumstances, and what you're hoping to achieve.

Keep in mind, there are many factors at play when hiring an attorney to work with. Even an experienced attorney may not be a good match for you, if you two are unable to see eye to eye on the best way to proceed, or have a clash of personalities. For instance, if you're seeking an amicable solution via divorce mediation, you want an attorney who's specifically suited to that with his or her experience and track record, as well as demeanor and personality. Another factor which of course must be considered is the cost of your legal representation

As always, be careful to evaluate all of your options thoroughly and try to make a wise decision not only on the attorney you work with, but on all manners of the separation and divorce process.