In order to file for a divorce in the state of Maryland, the spouses must have grounds or reason to do so, which must have occurred in Maryland, or else one of the spouses must have been a resident of Maryland for at least a year. There is no such thing as "irreconcilable differences" or no-fault grounds; rather, a couple must have been separated for at two years without interruption, with no cohabitation or sexual relations, and with no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
The separation must be mutual, voluntary and have the intent of ending the marriage. To help prove that a separation is voluntary, a Divorce Settlement Agreement must be signed under oath before the divorce complaint can be filed. Fill Out your Forms If a couple has a Divorce Settlement Agreement , then one of the spouses can begin the process to receive a divorce.
The spouse that files the Complaint for Divorce is called the Plaintiff, while the spouse who receives the complaint is called the Defendant. The complaint contains an identification, and basic explanation of who the couple is, their children, the grounds in this case the two year legal separation and the relief that the plaintiff is requesting.
After the plaintiff files the complaint, he or she must then serve the Defendant spouse either by certified mail or a private server.
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The packet contains a Summons an order from the court to answer the complaint and two Civil-Domestic Information Reports one blank, and one already completed by the Plaintiff. The plaintiff must then a return receipt, also known as an Affidavit of Service, explaining that the Defendant has been notified.
Once served, the Summons states that if the defendant lives in Maryland, he or she has 30 days to file an Answer. If the defendant lives outside of Maryland, he or she has 60 days to answer, and if the defendant lives outside of the US then he or she has 90 days to file an Answer. With the Answer, the Defendant either admits or denies the allegations that the Plaintiff has laid out with his or her complaint.
The Defendant is also allowed to make allegations against the Plaintiff, even if the divorce is uncontested. If the defendant does not answer in the time allotted by the summons, the Plaintiff must make a "diligent effort" to locate their missing spouse. This would include: A service by certified mail at the last known address Letters to friends, relatives, neighbors and former employers Hiring a Private Investigator Searching telephone directories through directory assistance and the internet A Maryland Motor Vehicle administration search Referencing the Military Service Locator Contacting the Child Support Enforcement Agency After this, the plaintiff may try service by publication.
After the Plaintiff has exhausted all of his or her options, he or she may file a request for default, and once that is received, the Plaintiff may schedule an uncontested divorce hearing. The Hearing Whether the Defendant is present or not, an uncontested divorce goes to a hearing. Your spouse must have served at least 12 months of their sentence at the time of filing.
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Insanity: A licensed medical doctor has determined that your spouse is legally insane, and they have resided in a mental health facility for at least three years prior to filing for a divorce. Related Legal Issues that Surround a Divorce In general, there are four main legal issues that tend to provide most of the points of contention during a divorce: Alimony: A financial payment or obligation by one spouse to the other.
Alimony can be paid temporarily or indefinitely although indefinite alimony is very rare and is intended to be rehabilitative in nature.
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Child custody: The court may award sole custody of the child to one parent or require the parents to share custody of the child in a joint-custody arrangement. Note that there are two types of child custody:Legal custody is the right to make major, long-term decisions on behalf of the child, generally for major educational.
Physical custody is the right to keep the child in the home and make day-to-day decisions on their behalf. Child support: If you and your spouse have minor children, the court may require one of you to provide financial payments that ensure the child is cared for and enjoys a similar standard of living to the extent possible as they did before the divorce. After that, the court will distribute any jointly-owned property between the spouses — either by mutual agreement or by what the court decides is a fair distribution.
This includes all form of pension or retirement plans that were accumulated during the marriage. These documents provide the court with the key details of your case, including the names of the spouses and the grounds for divorce. Both spouses must complete financial statements that detail their assets, debts, income, and expenses. The court will issue a writ of summons and will serve the summons to the defendant spouse by Sheriff in your home county.
There are other ways to serve a defendant, such as by process server, registered mail, restricted delivery or by a third party. The defendant has between 30 and 60 days to file an answer to the complaint depending on whether they are in state or not.
How to File for No Fault Divorce in Maryland - State Requirements and Documents
The defendant can also file a counter-complaint, which may detail grounds for divorce that differ from those named by the plaintiff. Here are just a few of them: Receiving expert counsel: Your attorney will be the best source of knowledgeable and helpful advice when it comes to your case. Only an attorney can explain the law and give you expert advice through the lens of your unique circumstances and the habits of your particular court.
Avoiding mistakes: Divorce cases are complex, and any mistake could prove very costly.
Reducing stress: Divorce is stressful enough without adding the immense workload and anxiety associated with the legal casework. It also gives you a third party who can negotiate with your spouse in a clear-headed manner when things get heated or when you need some space.
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Are you a legal professional? By submitting this form, you agree to Findlaw. We respect your privacy. He or she must respond to "answer" the petition within a certain time usually about three weeks. You must respond to the allegations in the petition within a short time usually 30 days , or you will lose your right to argue your position on issues like property division and child custody.
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Agreement or disagreement with the information and demands contained in the petition can often be declared on a pre-printed court form by checking boxes labeled "admitted" or "denied," in sections numbered to correspond with the statements or demands made in the petition. These pre-printed answer forms also provide space for explanation and the respondent's own demands. If the respondent feels that he or she is at minimum entitled to joint custody, then the respondent would make that position and reasons supporting that position clear in the answer.