There are several ways a person can file for divorce in Maryland. The process begins when a spouse alleges appropriate statutory grounds. Even when it is a mutual consent divorce, one party must file first.
When one party agrees, the other may have their answer to the complaint prepared. Parties who file the complaint and answer together may avoid the 30-day waiting period to get the subsequent summons and service. They can also file a joint request for an uncontested divorce when all the other statutory requirements are met. For questions about how to file for divorce in Maryland, enlist the help of a steadfast divorce attorney.
To dissolve their marriage, one party must file a complaint for an absolute or limited divorce and wait a couple weeks to receive a summons in the mail. It is a plaintiff’s responsibility to get the summons, complaint, and other important documents served to the defendant. They can do so by paying a sheriff to personally serve their spouse, hiring a private process server for a higher fee, or asking a friend or family member. However, an estranged spouse cannot serve the documents themselves.
After the defendant is served their papers, the plaintiff must file an affidavit of service with the court. However, the clock starts ticking on the case as soon as the initial documents are served to the defendant, who also has only a certain amount of time to respond in writing to the lawsuit.
The court sends out its first notices with a scheduling conference where the parties may appear with their legal counsel. The scheduling conference is an important hearing to attend because dates are set for the rest of the case and are difficult to change thereafter.
The Length of a Maryland Divorce
The time needed for the divorce process depends on the type of case and how much it is contested. When an individual files an uncontested divorce based on mutual consent, or when 12 months have already passed and there are no issues between the spouses, the process could be fairly quick. For example, a defendant who is willing to cooperate could get a hearing on their uncontested divorce in six to eight weeks once the papers are properly filed by both parties. Cases involving the following contested items may take a year or more to conclude:
Mistakes to Avoid
The most common mistakes people make when going through a divorce in Maryland are:
- Not seeking legal advice
- Relocating with or without the children during litigation
- Misusing support funds
- Changing jobs during litigation
- Signing a document without review by a lawyer
- Using children as leverage during custody battles
Any of these circumstance may lead to the release of evidence of the parties’ misconduct to the public, so the way that former partners communicate with each other is crucial. It is very important to learn about how to file for divorce in Maryland from a dedicated attorney before entering the legal process.
One judge never considers the set of facts in a divorce the same way as another judge. People must understand that a judge is bound by the law and the evidence presented to him or her and cannot make decisions based on favoritism. For more information about how to file for a divorce in Maryland, consult a skilled lawyer who has experience with this area of family law.