In this blog, we will cover the most frequently asked questions in regards to divorce in Maryland. This will cover everything from the types of divorce, how to file a divorce, and more.
What types of divorce are there?
Limited and absolute divorces can be requested in the state of Maryland. A limited divorce does not legally terminate a marriage. A limited divorce will formalize legal separation and can address issues such as child custody and visitation, insurance, use and ownership of the marital home, and alimony. This may be a good option for people who are unable to reach agreements on those matters by themselves but who do not have a sufficient legal basis for an absolute divorce.
An absolute divorce will resolve all of the issues above as well as allow the parties to formally determine what is marital property and distribute the same. Unlike a limited divorce, an absolute divorce will formally terminate the marriage. Once an absolute divorce is granted, the couple will no longer be legally married, unless they decide to remarry at some point in the future.
What are the reasons for divorce?
Many reasons are given by couples who have filed for divorce. One or both spouses may have decided to end their union. They may have fallen out of love with one another or simply don’t feel the connection that previously existed.
A person may also opt to ask for a divorce if their partner has separated from or deserted them (for at least 12 consecutive months). Incarceration, imprisonment, adultery, cruel or vicious treatment by one spouse to the other and/or any minor children living in the home are other legal bases to request a divorce.
How are assets divided in a divorce?
Maryland is an equitable distribution state. Please note that equitable does not necessarily mean equal. A judge will review all marital and non-marital assets before making its decision. Generally speaking, most courts will attempt to divide assets as evenly as possible to allow both parties to enjoy the same or a similar standard of living as was enjoyed during the marriage.
Marital property is any property that was obtained during the union. Cars, homes, joint bank accounts, boats, furniture, income, retirement account contributions, and other similar possessions are examples of marital assets. Non-marital assets or pre-marital assets include property that was acquired prior to the marriage or by gift, inheritance or is directly traceable to a non-marital or pre-marital source. There may be some instances where certain non-marital items could be considered marital property. For example, if a house was purchased before marriage, but marital funds were used to pay for the monthly mortgage payments, the home, or some portion thereof, may be viewed as marital property.
Some couples may choose to create their own settlement agreements. They will sit down and determine who will be responsible for what assets and debts. We can help you get started. Feel free to schedule a no-obligation consultation with a member of our staff.
How is debt handled in a divorce?
A judge will look at whose name the deed to the home, credit cards, bank accounts and other debt obligations are in. In most circumstances, the Court will take all debts into consideration in making property distributions.
What do I need to do if I want to file for divorce?
If you want to file for divorce, start by filling out a Complaint for Limited Divorce (CC-DR-021) or a Complaint for Absolute Divorce (CC-DR-020) as needed. If you have a settlement agreement, that should be included in your paperwork, along with any relevant fee waiver and financial forms.
A Civil Domestic Information Report (CC-DCM-001) is also required. All counties in the state of Maryland also mandate that a Notice Regarding Restricted Information Pursuant to Rule 20.201.1 (MDJ-008) be supplied along with the financial documents, Joint Statement of the Parties and other relevant paperwork.
Divorce documents should be filed in circuit court in the county where you or your former partner currently reside. Copies of all paperwork will be provided and served to the other person. The court must also receive proof that those items were sent to your spouse.
People who live in Maryland have 30 days to respond to the divorce papers. If your partner lives in another state, they have 60 days to reply. Adults living outside of the U.S. have 90 days to respond to divorce requests. Failure to respond within the given time frame could result in an Order of Default being entered against the failing spouse.
If the person who was served divorce papers responds or contests the divorce, the issues will need to be resolved in a court of law. One or more court hearings may be scheduled to iron out the details. The respondent should bring the completed paperwork and any other documents that may support their case.
What is alimony?
Alimony is a certain dollar amount that may be awarded to one spouse in a divorce. There are two types of alimony: rehabilitative and permanent. Permanent alimony is generally disfavored in this state; however, there are some cases where this may be appropriate, such as particularly long marriages with a consistent, substantial earning disparity between the parties. Alimony is not the same as child support, as the purpose of this award is to afford the financially inferior spouse the opportunity to become self-supporting, if possible.
In addition to current income, a judge will also examine each partner’s need and ability to pay alimony. Remarriage of the individual receiving alimony may also impact an alimony award or duration.
How long does it take to get divorced?
Divorce proceedings may be completed in a matter of months, or they could take a year or more. Disputed items, the city or county where the suit is filed, where you live and the reasons for divorce are just some of the attributes that can determine how long it will be before the divorce can be finalized. Most divorce cases are typically settled in about 12 months or less, on average.
How can I get started?
We can help you file for divorce. Contact us to schedule a personal no-obligation consultation. Our trained staff members will sit down with you and explain the process.