If you decide to divorce your spouse, the procedures you must complete can be both emotionally and legally complicated – even if the parties mutually agree to dissolve their marriage. Parties seeking a divorce in Maryland must fulfill certain procedures and paperwork before they can finalize the end of their marriage.
Fortunately, this process can be made easier with help from a seasoned Howard County divorce lawyer. By retaining a knowledgeable family law attorney to help you get your affairs in order, you can minimize your stress while also maximizing your odds of reaching a positive and mutually beneficial resolution to your case.
Legal Grounds for Dissolving a Marriage in Howard County
Depending on their individual circumstances, married parties in our area have the option of pursuing either a limited divorce or an absolute divorce. Limited divorces are typically a temporary measure, as they do not actually end the marriage permanently.
Instead, they allow for spouses to legally separate – but not remarry – and then later file for an absolute divorce once they meet the requirements to do so. Acceptable grounds for a limited divorce include cruelty or vicious conduct from the non-filing party to their spouse or minor child, desertion by the non-filing party, or physical separation.
Conversely, an absolute divorce legally terminates a marriage permanently – meaning that both parties are free to marry someone else if they wish – and can be pursued through a number of different fault grounds, including:
- Desertion for more than 12 months
- Excessively vicious conduct
- Imprisonment for more than 3 years
The non-fault grounds are mutual consent or separation for more than 12 months. There are a variety of prerequisites to fulfill and legal matters to address before an absolute divorce can be granted by a local court, all of which a skilled attorney can help with.
Filing Requirements for a Divorce
If a divorce is sought mutually by both spouses, or the fault-based grounds for the divorce happened within Maryland borders, the party can file for divorce in Howard County. If the applicable grounds for divorce occurred outside of the state, one of the spouses must have lived in Maryland for a minimum six months prior to filing.
Depending on which form of divorce a filing party wants to seek, they must submit a Complaint for Absolute Divorce or a Complaint for Limited Divorce, which can be found online as Forms CC-DR-020 and CC-DR-021. A qualified divorce lawyer from our firm can provide guidance on how these forms should be filed, as well as whether other forms and agreements should be completed and included in this initial filing.
Importantly, anyone filing for divorce by themselves must ensure their spouse is properly served with a copy of the initial Complaint and all other documents filed with it. Once they receive these documents, non-filing parties will have 30 days to respond if they reside in Maryland, 60 days if they reside in another state, or 90 days if they reside outside of US.
Seek Help from a Howard County Divorce Attorney
Filing for divorce in Maryland requires jumping through a lot of hoops and fulfilling a variety of procedural requirements, not to mention a great deal of emotional strain. While you have the right to go through this process alone, it is almost always a better idea to have guidance and support from a legal professional every step of the way.
Working with a Howard County divorce lawyer can help ensure the dissolution of your marriage proceeds as smoothly as possible. To set a date for an initial consultation, call today.