There are seven grounds for an absolute divorce in Maryland: desertion, adultery, voluntary separation, two year separation, cruelty, insanity or conviction of a crime. The most common ground used is voluntary separation, which means you and your spouse have mutually and voluntarily agreed to live apart for one year, you have no hope of repairing your relationship and there has been no sexual contact between the two of you. You must have lived in Maryland for at least one year before filing for divorce in Maryland. If you are filing for a divorce based on the ground of insanity, you must have lived in Maryland for at least two years.
Obtain the proper forms. The forms are located at the clerk's office in the courthouse.
111 N. Calvert Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
The clerk's office is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Complete the forms. You will need to complete the "Complaint for Absolute Divorce," "Summons," "Domestic Coversheet," "Financial Statement," and "Property Statement. If you have minor children with your spouse, you will need to complete additional forms, such as child support worksheets. Check with the court clerk to be sure you are filling out the correct forms. Make three copies of each form.
File the original documents you completed with the court clerk. Keep one set for your records. The other set of forms will be served to your spouse.
Pay the filing fee. Check with the court clerk for the appropriate fee. You can also file for a fee waiver or fee deferment if you are unable to afford the fee.
Serve your spouse with the complaint and summons. You can arrange for the sheriff, certified process server or any adult to serve your spouse. You cannot personally deliver the papers to your spouse but you may use certified mail with a return receipt to serve your spouse if you wish. Keep in mind that you will have to pay a fee to the sheriff or a professional process server.
Return proof of service to the court. A sheriff or professional process server will give you the proof of service document. The sheriff can also return the proof of service directly to the court. If a third party adult served your spouse or you used the certified mail method, you must obtain a proof of service form from the court clerk. Your divorce case is now officially filed. Your spouse has 30 days from the date of service to respond or file an answer with the court.