If you have come to the decision to get a divorce in Maryland, chances are you have already gone through a substantial amount of stress. Now that you’re at this point, you want to move forward with the divorce with as little difficulty as possible. Fortunately, getting a divorce in Maryland can be a straightforward process, and you may be able to do so without a divorce attorney. To begin, you simply need to fill out the appropriate Maryland divorce papers and submit them to your county clerk. Using the online service CompleteCase.com to prepare your Maryland divorce papers can make the process even easier, ensuring you use the right documents and fill them out correctly.
We’ve gathered the following information to help you understand how a Maryland divorce works and provide the insight on how to get started.
In Maryland, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the divorce rate in 2011 was 2.9 for every 1,000 residents. This rate places Maryland in the middle of divorce rates in the United States. The rate of divorce in the state has remained fairly consistent over the past 20 years, with a high of 3.4 in 1990.
Maryland has two types of divorce – an “absolute divorce” and a “limited divorce”. Each type of divorce deals with all the issues you would expect, including property division, child custody, child support and alimony. The only difference is that the limited divorce leaves the couple still legally married. In most states, this limited divorce is referred to as a “legal separation”.
Maryland requires that either you or your spouse have lived in the state for a period of one year.
The state allows both fault-based divorces and no-fault divorces. In a fault-based divorce, you must provide grounds for why the marriage must end. Maryland recognizes fault and no fault grounds for divorce. No-fault grounds includes (1) 12–month separation, when the parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce; and (2) Mutual Consent, when the parties have no minor children, all issues of property, debt and spousal support have been agreed and both parties attend the final hearing.
The State of Maryland recognizes adultery, cruelty, excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, insanity, willful desertion for one year and conviction of a felony as fault grounds for a divorce.
If you need assistance coming to terms about divorce issues, Maryland divorce mediation is often the least expensive route, especially compared to a drawn out legal battle with divorce attorneys.
Unlike many states, Maryland is fairly restrictive on its allowance of a no-fault divorce. You and your spouse must have been living separately for one year before you can seek a no-fault divorce or qualify for mutual consent as the filing ground. Otherwise you will need to seek a fault-based divorce.
The specific Maryland divorce papers you fill out will vary based on your individual circumstances, but there are several forms that are required in any absolute divorce. These include the “Complaint for Absolute Divorce” and the “Civil Domestic Case Information Report”.
The Maryland Courts website has a page devoted to Family Law Forms, where you can find a wide variety of legal forms to use in your divorce. The forms mentioned above can be found on this page, as well as a number of other forms, some of them related to divorce, some of them not related to divorce. If you are doing this all on your own, it is best to contact the county clerk, or visit in person, to determine which divorce forms apply to your specific circumstances. Failure to submit the right forms, or filling out forms incorrectly can all result in delays or additional fees for your divorce.
If you find all of these forms overwhelming or confusing, understand that this is normal. Unless you have been through the divorce process or have legal training, the wide variety of divorce papers and requirements are enough to confuse anybody. Many people find it is easier to get their Maryland divorce papers online from CompleteCase.com. Our service helps you determine which forms you need to fill out, and assists to complete the forms correctly. Getting assistance can save you a lot of hassle and help you avoid costly delays.
After you have completed your divorce papers online or otherwise, it is time to submit them to your local county clerk. Remember, you will want to file in either the county where you or your spouse currently resides. It is best to call ahead to verify with the clerk that you are have the appropriate documentation,, including several copies of the documents and an acceptable form of payment for the state filing fee.
It is important that you only sign statements and affidavits in front of a notary public. Note that many courts have notaries available on site so make sure to inquire ahead of time to ensure your divorce papers can be accepted by the clerk. Once you have paid the filing fee, the clerk will stamp your documents and inform you of your next steps.
To complete the filing process, you will need to serve copies of your divorce documents, along with a “Writ of Summons” to your spouse. The court will need proof that you have served your spouse before it will finalize the divorce.
Maryland allows you to serve your spouse in a number of different ways:
Anyone 18 or older that is not involved in the divorce.
County Sheriff – Will charge a fee.
Private Process Server – Will also charge a fee, usually more than the sheriff. The benefit of this option is that the private process server will usually make several attempts to serve your spouse, whereas the sheriff will usually only make a single attempt.
By Mail – You will need to use a mailing option that requires your spouse to sign for the papers, giving you the proof of delivery that you need to file with the court. Maryland requires that someone other than you, the plaintiff in the divorce, mail the divorce papers.
When you receive proof from the server that the divorce papers have been delivered you then file the receipt with the court. When all papers have been filed, it can take between 30 to 90 days for the divorce to be finalized.