Maryland law does not allow married spouses to file for a legal separation. A legal separation is an alternative to filing for a divorce for those who are not ready to give up on their marriage or are opposed to divorce in general. In Maryland, you are either married or divorced. In Maryland, there are two kinds of divorce: a limited divorce and an absolute divorce. A limited divorce allows spouses to live in separate residents and they have court orders control finances and custody issues. An absolute divorce is when the marriage is officially terminated.

What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?

Getting a divorce in Maryland can be complicated. In Maryland, at least one spouse must be a resident of the State for at least 12 Months prior to filing the divorce papers. Also, Maryland law requires that the couple be living apart for at least 12 months before filing the divorce. There is an exception to this rule, which is one spouse must show fault grounds for the divorce if they want an immediate divorce without living apart 12 Months. 

These are the following paperwork for filing a divorce in Maryland: 

  • Plaintiff must complete a “Complaint for Absolute Divorce” form & and a “Civil Domestic Case Information Report”.
  • Plaintiff must file these forms in the circuit court in his or her county
  • After the complaint has been filed, plaintiff will receive a “Writ of Summons” and a copy of the complaint and the plaintiff must serve the two documents to the defendant giving them notice of the complaint.

Community Property vs. Separate Property

Unlike most states, Maryland is not a community property state, but rather an equitable distribution state. In a community property state, property acquired during marriage is considered jointly owned between the spouses and is divided equally upon divorce. 

In an equitable distribution state such as Maryland, the judge aims to make the distribution of property obtained during marriage fair and takes into the factor of each spouse’s contribution to the marriage and each spouse’s needs after the divorce. 

What Should You Do If There are Children Involved?

In a Maryland divorce, both natural parents are considered to the natural custodians of the children. No parent is favored than the other. Under Maryland law, the courts decide the child custody and visitation by looking at the child’s “best interests”.  Under Maryland laws, child support is determined by a formula that is set forth by statute. Both child support payments and custody does not always have to be decide by the court and can be decide by an agreement entered into by both natural parents.

Do You Need to Pay Alimony?

Yes. If the spouse request alimony in Maryland and qualifies to receive alimony from the other spouse, they will be entitled to alimony. However in Maryland, alimony must be claimed before the final ending of the marriage. After a spouse has filed for a divorce, the spouse cannot come back and claim alimony as a part of divorce if they failed to do so when filing for divorce.

Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?

Dealing with divorce can be difficult and generally requires the assistance of a qualified Maryland divorce lawyer. You may need to hire a lawyer for advice and representation during the divorce process. Your attorney will be able to help you understand how divorce laws in your area work.