How to Divorce in Maryland

By Roger Thorne
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Getting a divorce in Maryland can be a difficult process. The state divorce laws can be complicated and involve numerous legal issues. Though anyone can file a divorce complaint, it's always a good idea to speak to a qualified attorney if you're considering a Maryland divorce.

Download the appropriate divorce forms. Maryland law allows married couples to get two kinds of divorces: limited and absolute. Depending on the kind of divorce you want, you can download the appropriate form from the Maryland Judiciary website. If you have an attorney, she can prepare the petition with you.

Prepare the complaint. In Maryland, the divorce petition is generally referred to as the complaint, and can be filed by either spouse. The complaint must contain specific information, such as the names of each spouse, where they live, if any children are in the marriage, the reasons on which the divorce is sought and other vital information.

Prepare the other documents. Depending on the kind of divorce sought, the nature of the case and the kinds of relief asked for, you may also have to prepare other forms, such as a joint marital property statement. Ask your attorney what other forms are appropriate in your case.

Wait until you meet the residency requirements. Maryland law generally requires that at least one spouse be a resident of the state for at least one year prior to filing for divorce. Depending on the grounds upon which the divorce is filed, you may have to wait longer.

File the complaint. Once your divorce complaint is ready and you meet the residency requirements, you can file it in either county where one of the spouses lives, or in the county in which the defendant (the spouse not filing the complaint) works or owns a business.

Pay the filing fee. Maryland law requires a filing fee for civil cases, though these fees can differ depending on where the complaint is filed and what kind of complaint it is. Contact the county clerk's office to find out what the filing fee is.

Attend the hearing. Even if your divorce is uncontested (you and your spouse agree to everything), you'll still need to go to court at least once. If your divorce is more complicated, multiple court hearings and meetings may be required.

Finalize the divorce. Once you've either agreed to everything or the court has entered its judgment, your divorce can be finalized. The court will enter a divorce decree. When this happens, you are officially divorced.