Dissolving a marriage can be frustrating and lead to animosity between spouses. Those who do not want to endure divorce litigation might opt for separation instead. Although, it is recommended that estranged spouses do not attempt to draft an agreement themselves and that they seek the advice and counsel of an experienced separation agreements attorney for help. If you are unhappy in your marriage but do not want to divorce your partner, you should consult legal counsel about preparing for the Maryland separation process.
There are no formal steps in the Maryland separation process, and each case must be looked at separately. Couples who want to separate should try to amicably discuss their terms with each other. These terms should be negotiated, agreed to, and signed before either party moves out of the marital home. It is important to come to an agreement before one party moves out, as it would be very helpful later on if litigation ensues.
Parties to a separation should talk to each other openly and honestly, and they should try to independently agree to the terms thereof. Doing so allows them to subsequently and swiftly move onto the ones that they do not agree to. Those who cannot agree on certain terms should see a mediator to try to resolve the issues, because it is ideal to reach mutual understanding before either party drafts the separation agreement.
Stipulations of the Maryland Divorce Process
In the state of Maryland, there is no such thing as a legal separation. A marital separation agreement would be legally-binding as long as it was executed properly. How estranged spouses interact with finances and property after an agreement has been legitimized largely depends on what document was signed, how it was signed, under what circumstances it was signed, what its terms were, and the statuses of involved parties. For example, either party would be free to purchase their own property and/or dispose of it as they wish. However, the parties would still be married, but they would no longer be accumulating marital property depending on what their separation agreement said. As a result, the way in which couples navigate the Maryland separation process can greatly impact its outcome.
From Separated to Divorced
A spouse who wants to move forward with a divorce after being separated from their partner must properly serve documents to the other party. However, if a husband, for example, has not heard from his wife in over two years and does not know where she is living, he would be entitled to file an uncontested divorce based on the grounds of 12 months of separation.
Although, he would have to make attempts to find and serve her. If he cannot do so, he would have to file a motion for alternative service to notify the court that he made every effort to find her. The court may allow him alternative methods of serving, such as publishing the documents in a newspaper.
Dissolution of a Marriage by Mutual Consent
The Maryland separation process can lead to an uncontested divorce, as well. Divorce by mutual consent must be preceded by a signed separation agreement which addresses all the issues in a couple’s marriage including child custody, child support, alimony, monetary awards, marital property, and retirement rights. Every single issue in a marriage must be addressed in this written agreement and signed willingly by the parties in order to initiate a divorce while living in the same home.