How Do I File for a Divorce in Maryland?

Filing for a divorce is delicate regardless of your reasons for filing. It is also complex, and requires one to navigate many complex and stressful legal steps. When beginning the divorce process, It can be beneficial to know what is involved in filing a case to ensure that you are prepared for the process. Here, the Bel Air divorce attorneys at Rodier Family Law discuss the basics for filing for a divorce in the state of Maryland. 


Requirements & Grounds for Divorce in Maryland


To file for divorce in Maryland, at least one spouse must be a current Maryland resident for at least six months. If you and your spouse have a fully-executed Marital Settlement Agreement which resolves all issues pertaining to custody and support of children, alimony, and marital property, then you would be able to file a divorce under the grounds of mutual consent, at any time, regardless as to whether you are or are not physically separated.  Without a fully-executed Marital Settlement Agreement, Maryland law requires that both parties live separately for at least a year before an absolute divorce can be granted, but it is possible to file for a limited divorce if you are living apart for less than a year in order to gain temporary relief from the court regarding children and support, and also in certain circumstances if there has been a constructive desertion but you are still residing together.  Many people initiate a divorce filing under a limited divorce ground and then amend to an absolute divorce ground once they have met the statutory requirements.  Otherwise, the plaintiff must provide evidence that the other spouse did something to cause the need for a divorce, or in other words show “fault grounds.” Examples of “fault grounds” include adultery, cruelty, vicious conduct, and insanity. 


Key Steps in The Divorce Process


Completion of Maryland Divorce Forms

To begin the divorce process, the plaintiff must file two different forms: a Complaint and a Case Information Report; you may also need to file a financial statement if you are requesting child support and/or alimony.  These documents must be filed in the circuit court that presides over the appropriate county, or venue. Once a complaint has been filed, the court will issue a Writ of Summons. All of the initially filed documents, then need to be served on the defendant spouse in accordance with the Maryland Rules.  Service may be accomplished many ways; in person service may, for example, be performed so by anyone over the age of eighteen, the county sheriff, a private process server, etc.  Service means provision of the Complaint to the Defendant so as to confirm that he or she received the documentation and has an obligation to reply to the same. This process notifies the defendant spouse that divorce has been legally filed. 


Acceptance or Counter-Complaint from Defendant

After being served in Maryland, the Defendant is required to file an Answer within 30 days after service. In special cases, the defendant may have 60 days to file if living out of state or 90 days if living out of the country. The Defendant also has the ability to file a Counter Complaint, in which he or she may state grounds for divorce and requests for relief.


Seek Divorce Assistance With Maryland Attorneys at Rodier Family Law


Working with an experienced and compassionate divorce attorney can provide you with better strategy and more informed guidance on this major life change. At Rodier Family Law, our divorce attorneys have decades of experience navigating the complexities of divorce law in Maryland, and we make it our priority to guide you through every step, focusing on the individualized needs of your case. To learn more about our team and how we can assist you, contact us by clicking here: