The divorce process in Maryland begins as soon as one party files a complaint for a limited or legal divorce or a legal separation. After a final divorce decree, the parties can marry other people. If you are about to enter litigation to leave your spouse, consider speaking with a dedicated attorney about the divorce process in Maryland.
A complaint for divorce must be filed to initiate the process. Those who file for divorce cannot serve their spouse the papers, instead a non-party to their marriage must deliver these documents to the opposing party. Summons must be served within a certain amount of time after the initial papers are properly delivered. A person who files a complaint for divorce may have a sheriff, private process server, or another individual serve the defendant with the summons and other appropriate paperwork on their behalf.
When a defendant is served, the clock starts ticking on their lawsuit. The time a defendant has to respond to the suit depends on what the summon says and where they live, but it could be between 30 and 90 days. For this reason, it is important to contact a seasoned legal representative as soon as possible before entering divorce litigation.
After a defendant has been served divorce papers, the courts may set a scheduling conference where the parties and their attorneys must appear to discuss their marital issues. This sets the tone for the case, and the court would be notified as to whether it is contested or uncontested. At a scheduling conference, plaintiffs and defendants have an opportunity to ask for a pendente lite hearing, which is a temporary hearing for child custody, child support, and attorney’s fees. A party who has issues with shared children or finances should notify the court so they can schedule a hearing as early as possible.
When a defendant is properly served, the plaintiff must file an affidavit of completed service with the tribunal. Those who do not file the appropriate papers at each step may not see their case go to court. They may be required to file a new case after being dismissed for lack of prosecution. Affidavits help keep the divorce process in Maryland running smoothly and eliminate confusion or miscommunication between parties.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
A Maryland court could also order mediation and alternative dispute resolutions. A judge would order parties to a divorce to go through settlement conferences in hopes that they may independently settle some or all of their marital issues. This option is especially effective in uncontested divorce cases where both parties agree to the dissolution of their marriage.
The Role of an Attorney
A skilled divorce attorney would keep track of the timetables for a case as it proceeds through the litigation process. There are several important stages and a great deal of time spent gathering necessary documents and evidence for trial. Fortunately, qualified legal counsel can help claimants through each step of the divorce process in Maryland, so call today to get started.