The decision to end one’s marriage is never easy. In some cases, the spouses can separate amicably. However, a relationship can sometimes deteriorate so severely that ex-partners can no longer communicate civilly.

While separation and divorce are hard, you do not have to go through the legal process alone. A Gaithersburg divorce lawyer can explain the relevant laws in a clear and understandable way. Our firm’s seasoned legal advocates can tirelessly advocate for your rights in all areas of a divorce, including custody, property division, and spousal support.

Two Types of Divorce in Maryland

State law provides for two types of divorces, and only one formally ends a marriage. A knowledgeable local attorney can further explain these two options for dissolving a marriage.

Limited Divorce

While Maryland law does not provide for a legal separation, it does permit an action known as limited divorce. A limited divorce enables a couple to separate and seek interim relief, such as temporary alimony, child custody and support, and the use of a family home. However, it does not legally end a marriage, and neither spouse is permitted to remarry until a judge grants an absolute divorce.

Under Maryland Code Annotated Family Law Article §7-102, a party may file for a limited divorce after they separate, or if one party treats the other “cruelly” or deserts them.

Absolute Divorce

More commonly known as a final divorce, an absolute divorce legally terminates a couple’s marriage. In an absolute divorce, spouses can divide their assets and debt, conclude any custody and visitation matters, and resolve spousal support. There are numerous grounds on which a spouse may seek an absolute divorce.

The court’s authority to grant relief varies depending on whether a spouse pursues a limited or absolute divorce. As such, it is essential to consult a skilled divorce attorney in Gaithersburg before filing any legal action.

Is Every Divorce a Contested Case?

Spouses who decide to separate and end their marriage may be concerned about whether they will be required to go to court during their divorce proceedings. If the parties disagree on at least one issue, the divorce is contested. If the parties cannot resolve all disagreements between themselves, a judge will determine the outcome in a divorce trial.

However, if the parties have been separated for more than one year or signed a Marital Settlement Agreement resolving all outstanding marital issues, they may proceed with an uncontested divorce under Maryland law. In either case, at least one spouse must appear before a judge to conclude the divorce. The final hearing is generally straightforward in these types of scenarios.

Whether a spouse seeks a contested or uncontested divorce, an experienced divorce lawyer in Gaithersburg could assist them by filing the appropriate pleadings in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Length of a Final Divorce in Gaithersburg

Several factors can impact the length of the divorce process. Regardless of the reason for the divorce, generally at least one spouse must have resided in Maryland for six months prior to filing a divorce petition in the state.

Although state law requires at least a one-year separation for certain divorce grounds before either spouse is eligible to obtain a final divorce, the litigation process can take over a year and therefore it is advisable to consult with an attorney to file for divorce before the year is up. After the one year has passed, either party is eligible for divorce even if the other objects.

However, there are some grounds, like adultery, where a waiting period is not required.  A spouse pursuing divorce based on infidelity must prove that the offending spouse had the “motive and opportunity” to be unfaithful.

If the spouses meet the requirements for a “mutual consent” divorce, they are exempt from the one-year waiting period. In any case, a knowledgeable local attorney can advise on seeking a timely resolution to the divorce case.

Seek Help from a Gaithersburg Divorce Attorney

A divorce can have a significant impact on your life and familial relations. Let an experienced Gaithersburg divorce lawyer help you make the right decisions during this emotional and challenging time. Call our law firm to discuss your concerns with a dedicated legal advocate.