How Do I File For Divorce In Maryland?

How Do I File For Divorce In Maryland

Are you getting a divorce in Maryland? Going through a divorce is never a simple procedure. It does not help that there is a massive deal of confusion about the actual legal steps and requirements throughout the way. This post will offer you some insight specifically into divorce in Maryland for couples and individuals residing in the state.

  1. Absolute divorce legally ends your marriage. It settles all issues, including property. MD Fam Law Code § 7-103

(a) Grounds for absolute divorce. -- The court may decree an absolute divorce on the following grounds:

  1. adultery;
  2. desertion, if:
    • (i) the desertion has continued for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce;
    • (ii) the desertion is deliberate and final; and
    • (iii) there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;
  3. conviction of a felony or misdemeanor in any state or in any court of the United States if before the filing of the application for divorce the defendant has:
    • (i) been sentenced to serve at least 3 years or an indeterminate sentence in a penal institution; and
    • (ii) served 12 months of the sentence;
  4. 12-month separation, when the parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months without interruption before the filing of the application for divorce;
  5. insanity if:
    • (i) the insane spouse has been confined in a mental institution, hospital, or other similar institution for at least 3 years before the filing of the application for divorce;
    • (ii) the court determines from the testimony of at least 2 physicians who are competent in psychiatry that the insanity is incurable and there is no hope of recovery; and
    • (iii) 1 of the parties has been a resident of this State for at least 2 years before the filing of the application for divorce;
  6. cruelty of treatment toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation;
  7. excessively vicious conduct toward the complaining party or a minor child of the complaining party, if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation; or
  8. mutual consent, if:
    • (i) the parties execute and submit to the court a written settlement agreement signed by both parties that resolves all issues relating to:
      • 1. alimony;
      • 2. the distribution of property, including the relief provided in §§ 8-205 and 8-208 of this article; and
      • 3. the care, custody, access, and support of minor or dependent children;
    • (ii) the parties attach to the settlement agreement a completed child support guidelines worksheet if the settlement agreement provides for the payment of child support;
    • (iii) neither party files a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing required under the Maryland Rules; and
    • (iv) after reviewing the settlement agreement, the court is satisfied that any terms of the agreement relating to minor or dependent children are in the best interests of those children.

(b) Recrimination. -- Recrimination is not a bar to either party obtaining an absolute divorce on the grounds set forth in subsection (a)(1) through (7) of this section, but is a factor to be considered by the court in a case involving the ground of adultery.

(c) Res judicata. -- Res judicata with respect to another ground under this section is not a bar to either party obtaining an absolute divorce on the ground of 12-month separation.

(d) Condonation. -- Condonation is not an absolute bar to a decree of an absolute divorce on the ground of adultery, but is a factor to be considered by the court in determining whether the divorce should be decreed.

(e) Effect of limited divorce on application for absolute divorce. --

  1. A court may decree an absolute divorce even if a party has obtained a limited divorce.
  2. If a party obtained a limited divorce on the ground of desertion that at the time of the decree did not meet the requirements of subsection (a)(2) of this section, the party may obtain an absolute divorce on the ground of desertion when the desertion meets the requirements of subsection (a)(2) of this section.

(f) Effect of mutual consent decrees on settlement agreements. -- If a court decrees an absolute divorce on the grounds of mutual consent under subsection (a)(8) of this section, the court may:

  1. merge or incorporate the settlement agreement into the divorce decree; and
  2. modify or enforce the settlement agreement consistent with Title 8, Subtitle 1 of this article.

(g) Oral amendment to application for divorce. -- For purposes of subsection (a)(4) of this section, the "filing of the application for divorce" includes an oral amendment made by a party with the consent of the other party at a hearing on the merits in open court to a previously filed application for limited or absolute divorce.

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Maryland may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.

Can I get a legal separation?

There is no such thing as a “legal separation” in Maryland. If you and your spouse live apart with the intention of ending your marriage, and if you do not have sexual intercourse during that time, that constitutes separation. Separation can be a legal reason (or ground) for divorce, depending on how long you and your spouse are separated.

1. Create residency in the state

If the grounds for the divorce occurred outside this State, a party may not apply for a divorce unless one of the parties has resided in this State for at least 6 months before the application is filed.

You can get forms from the Circuit Court clerk or from a third-party legal document service. Fill out all the personal information requested. You must request and make a statement of your costs and income if you like the court to order child support or alimony.

2. Fill out your complaint

The next step on filing your divorce in Maryland is to fill a complaint with the Circuit Court county where you reside. You can utilize the Circuit Court as an alternative if it would be easy for you to file in the county where you work.

3. Provide your spouse with a copy of the divorce complaint

This is the last time you need to do it. Make sure you give your spouse a copy of the summons and divorce complaint. It might be available for ten days to file your complaint. State of Maryland law enables you with sixty days to do this. Or else, you need to ask for a new summon from the court. If your spouse is served with in the State then they have 30 days to file an answer or responsive pleading. If served outside of Maryland, but within the US they have 60 days to respond.

The state lets the service of process by certified mail. You could just mail a copy of the documents to your spouse. You could employ a private process server in the state where your spouse resides if he or she does not sign for the mail. Remember that Maryland does not permit you to hand-deliver the copy of documents to your spouse.