The process for ending a marriage in the state of Maryland begins with filing a complaint for divorce — limited or absolute. Once a complaint is filed, the plaintiff — or filing party — must wait to receive a summons which will arrive via first class mail, and it could take more than two weeks to receive depending on the circuit court and county.
After the summons is personally served, the waiting period begins. The defendant — or responding party — could have anywhere from 30 to 90 days to file his or her written response/answer. If the defendant does not file a written response and answer within the time allotted, then the plaintiff must file additional documents with the court to get what is called an order of default so their case can proceed. If the plaintiff does not do so, then the case may not proceed at all.
There are many steps associated with dissolving a marriage, so it can be substantially beneficial to enter the process with a general knowledge of what to expect during a Maryland divorce. Our diligent legal team can help you prepare for divorce litigation to ensure that your rights and interests are protected in court.
Opportunities to Resolve a Divorce Outside of Court
In most circumstances, the person who was served with the legal documents will either hire an attorney or proceed to file a response on their own. The court will hold a scheduling conference for the parties and their counsel to appear and answer questions about their marital issues as well as how much time is needed. That is a very important time for the case and it will set the tone for the rest of the divorce.
There will also be plenty of opportunities for the parties to try to resolve their matters out of court. Maryland courts prefer for the parties to settle their marital differences, custody disagreements, and finances outside of court, so there are many tools such as mediation, alternate dispute resolution, and even facilitators available to divorcing couples.
The tools that the courts provide to litigants should be utilized in the best possible ways so that both parties can avoid having a stranger ultimately decide what is best for them, their children, and their finances. At the end of the day, a judge is tasked with deciding the litigants’ futures, but it is usually best for the parties to decide on their own. With the help of an experienced attorney, they can navigate through the litigation system with the necessary tools and reach a reasonable resolution to their marriage before going to the final trial.
Contact a Local Attorney to Learn More about What to Expect During a Maryland Divorce
People considering a divorce and those having issues with a marriage, custody, or post-judgment modifications should consult with an attorney prior to taking any legal action. The biggest problems arise when people decide to take matters into their own hands and find out later that maybe that was not the best idea. It is very difficult for a person to adequately represent themselves in court, and in order to follow the rules of evidence and the litigation procedures, they will be at a high disadvantage without qualified legal counsel. Consider reaching out to our firm today to connect with a dedicated lawyer who can tell you more about what to expect during a Maryland divorce.