An uncontested divorce in Maryland is one which involves no contested issues between the parties. Couples who have resolved every issue in their marriage such as child custody, property division, child support, retirement, and alimony give the courts no option other than to enter a Judgment of Divorce.
Uncontested cases allow estranged spouses to clearly and quickly define their grounds for divorce with the help of a knowledgeable attorney. The conclusion of an uncontested case may be a 12-month separation or mutually consented divorce, which are both substantially more cost-effective than a contested dissolution. For this reason, is it advisable to seek professional legal guidance from a dedicated Maryland uncontested divorce lawyer before entering litigation with your former partner.
Grounds for an Uncontested Divorce in Maryland
An uncontested divorce is based on a 12-month separation, whether voluntary or involuntary in nature. One party can leave their marriage even though their spouse may not want them to. Parties who stay separated and apart for 12 months, do not reside together under the same roof, and do not have marital relations after the 12-month period create a cause of action for one of the parties to file an uncontested divorce.
Filing for an uncontested divorce does not mean the other party will agree to it, as they may have their own reason for divorce which they want to pursue. An estranged spouse might do this if they are seeking to collect substantial portions of the marital estate to the disagreement of the opposing party.
The other way to get an uncontested divorce is by mutual consent. When both parties sign a separation agreement addressing their marital issues so there is nothing for the court to adjudicate further, those parties can file a divorce based on mutual consent. Under these circumstances, only one party needs to go to court on the date of the uncontested divorce.
Filing an Uncontested Divorce
The process to get an uncontested divorce in Maryland begins with filing a Complaint for Divorce which alleges one of the legally accepted grounds for an uncontested dissolution. It is subsequently necessary to serve the complaint to the opposing party, who would then be responsible for filing an Answer to the Complaint. Additionally, it is important to file a Joint Request for an Uncontested Divorce. For a divorce based on 12-month separation, only the filing party and their skilled Maryland uncontested divorce attorney need to appear and give testimony at the hearing. However, couples seeking a divorce based on mutual consent will need to have filed and signed a separation agreement and a marital property agreement, both of which indicate to the courts that they have resolved their marital issues.
Legally binding marital agreements must include:
- Provisions about paying or waiving alimony
- Retirement provisions
- Child custody and support
- Resolutions to outstanding property issues between the parties
Once the appropriate papers are filed with the tribunal, the court clerk would review them and send a notice to the parties of an uncontested hearing’s date and time. Only the plaintiff needs to appear to an uncontested case’s hearing. Although both parties may attend, it is not necessary as long as the papers are properly filed.
An uncontested divorce changes impacts related matters in several ways. Parties who file based on a 12-month separation typically list inequity for property distribution as one of the reasons for their divorce. If the court sees no reason for a divorce other than a 12-month separation and there is no fault of either party, it might find that the property of the parties should be divided more equally. This also depends on the circumstances of the parties and some other factors that the court would have to consider. However, the court would not consider the fault of one party in determining whether the other should get more money.
Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation
Arbitration and mediation are avenues that the parties will have to pursue if they start litigation, and either may result in an agreement to file for an uncontested divorce. Arbitration and mediation can also lead estranged spouses to agree on some, if not all, of the divorce terms and avoid litigation. It is mandatory for the parties to a Maryland divorce to attend mediation and/or arbitration, unless they are excluded for other reasons like a protective order or abuse. Fortunately, a seasoned uncontested divorce lawyer in Maryland could guide a claimant through these hearings in order to promote a fast and effective dissolution.
Benefits of an Uncontested Dissolution
There are substantial benefits to having an uncontested divorce because it allows parties to dissolve their marriage with less animosity, which makes it easier and quicker for them to proceed to court. Parties who divorce on mutual consent can continue to live in the same house together, which benefits those who cannot afford to move out right away. They must sign an agreement and settle all their marital issues in order to continue living in the same house during a divorce.
The other benefit is the cost. Parties who can get a divorce based on a 12-month separation or mutual consent are more likely to save money in attorney’s fees as opposed to those in a contested divorce. A dedicated Maryland uncontested divorce attorney could help a claimant pursue the most time-efficient and cost-effective legal path.
Consult a Maryland Uncontested Divorce Attorney Today
You may file for an uncontested divorce in Maryland if you have been separated from your partner for at least 12 months and have collaboratively resolved your marital issues. For example, if you and your former spouse do not share minor children or property, do not want alimony or retirement rights, and have no quarrels with your marital estate, you can file an uncontested divorce. Filing a divorce under amicable terms can be substantially cheaper than battling out your marital issues in court, so the courts encourage divorcing couples to address and resolve their concerns outside of the legal system.
You could also draft a marital separation agreement which settles all the issues with regards to your marriage with the help of a steadfast Maryland uncontested divorce lawyer. Drafting a thoroughly considered, legally binding agreement negates the need for a 12-month separation, so it is best to retain qualified legal counsel before filing. Call today to learn more about your legal options for marriage dissolution from a well-versed legal professional.