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Maryland Divorce Laws - What You Need to Know!

Deciding that a marriage is over is something that usually takes a little while. Most people think about the life-changing decision before heading to the courthouse. For residents in Maryland, knowing about some of the interesting caveats of filing for divorce might help them to know what to expect when the file the petition.


In order to get a divorce in Maryland, at least one spouse must live in the state. There is no requirement for residency length unless the reason for the divorce occurred in another state. If the reason for the divorce, such as infidelity, occurred in another state, there is a one-year residency requirement.

The person filing for divorce in Maryland can file in the county of residence or the county of employment for the defendant or the county of residence for the petitioner. Any paperwork that is given to the county circuit court must also be given to the other party.

Once the divorce papers are filed, there is a waiting period of one year before the divorce can be finalized. This includes the time allotted for the defendant to respond to the complaint. The defendant has 30 days if living in Maryland, 60 days if living in another state, or 90 days if living in another country to answer the divorce petition.

Grounds for Divorce

It is possible to get a no-fault divorce or a fault divorce in Maryland. A no-fault divorce occurs when at least one person in the marriage claims it is over without any hope of being fixed. A fault divorce occurs if there is infidelity, desertion, a criminal conviction resulting in at least one year of incarceration, a two-year separation, insanity, or cruelty during the course of the marriage.

Property Division and Alimony

Maryland statutes provide for property division during a divorce to be on an equitable basis. This means that any property acquired during the marriage will be divided based on what is equitable or fair and not so that property is divided equally. Several factors, including contribution to the marriage, age of the spouses, length of the marriage, and other similar factors, are all considered during the property division process.

Alimony is granted based on the court's interpretation of the spouses' income, resources, and ability. The alimony can be temporary or permanent. Temporary alimony is alimony pendente lite, meaning pending the litigation, and usually stops or changes when the divorce is finalized. Permanent alimony is valid until the alimony order expires, the recipient remarries, has a child that isn't the payer's, the payer dies, or the recipient dies.

Divorces Involving Children

There is no presumption of suitability of parents based on sex alone in Maryland. This means that the father or mother can get custody of the children. The choice of custody is based on what the court views as the child's best interests. The parent who doesn't have custody of the child will be ordered to pay child support. Child support is based on the Income Shares Model, which factors in the income of both parents, the number of children, and a variety of other factors.

Getting a divorce in Maryland is complex. Maryland has very strict factors to consider when divorcing. Learning the ins and outs of divorce can take considerable time, so consulting with an experienced family law attorney in Maryland might help you to decide how to handle the matters of your divorce.

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