If you believe reconciling with your spouse is impossible and you are considering divorce, be sure to do your homework so you have a basic understanding of the rules for divorce in Maryland and the general steps to take to obtain a dissolution. The majority of Marylanders opt for a no-fault divorce, which does not require you to prove that any party was at fault. They are generally swifter and simpler than fault-based divorces, but they can still become heated and contentious.
For help with your divorce, call Hecht & Associates for a consultation with a no-fault divorce attorney at 301-587-2099.
What is a No-Fault Divorce?
Maryland offers two avenues of divorce: fault and no-fault. Fault divorces require the filing partner to prove the other partner was somehow at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Examples of grounds on which you can seek a fault divorce include cruelty, insanity, desertion, and adultery.
No-fault divorces, on the other hand, only require that you and your spouse have lived apart for one year. You do not have to prove fault, and unlike other states, Maryland does not require that you prove that you have “irreconcilable differences.”
Other than living apart for one year, the only other real requirements are that either you or your spouse have lived in Maryland at least one year, that you believe there is “no reasonable possibility of reconciliation,” and that you submit the proper forms and complete the mandatory steps to obtain a divorce.
In addition—as of October 1, 2015—Maryland now provides a second type of no-fault divorce some couples may opt for. This new ground, “mutual consent,” allows couple to file for divorce without the one-year waiting period. It is an expedited divorce for couples who both want a dissolution of marriage and who can reach amicable terms. However, not all couples qualify. In order to file for a no-fault divorce based on mutual consent:
- You must not have any minor children together.
- You have to agree on all alimony and property settlement matters and submit a written settlement agreement to the court.
- Neither of you can file a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing.
- Both of you have to attend the divorce hearing.
What if We Cannot Agree on Everything?
There are many issues to settle during a divorce. The longer you have been married, the more kids you have, and the more marital assets and debts you have, the more challenging reaching a settlement will be. You will need to agree on things such as child support, alimony, child custody, and property division. If you are able to settle all matters amicably, you have what the law calls an uncontested divorce.
If you and your spouse cannot initially agree on some of the fine print of divorce, mediation can help. Mediation is a relatively informal meeting attended by both parties, their attorneys, and a third-party, unbiased mediator. The mediator facilitates the meeting, offers suggestions to resolve issues, and tries to help the couple reach a compromise.
If you still cannot reach terms despite mediation, a judge will hear the case and decide the issues for you. This is a contested divorce, which is generally longer and more expensive than an uncontested case.
How do I file for a No-Fault Divorce?
The basic steps for obtaining a no-fault divorce include the following.
- Ensure that you wholeheartedly want a divorce. Divorce is never easy or ideal. Only pursue one if you have exhausted all of your options and know that reconciliation is impossible.
- Consult a lawyer. You need to know which type of divorce is right for you, which forms you need, and how to address complicated issues like custody and support. The no-fault divorce lawyers at Hecht & Associates can help you with this process.
- Fill out the required paperwork. Some of the forms you will need include a Joint Statement of Marital Property (DR33), a Financial Statement (DR30 or DR31), and a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (DR34 or DR35). We can help you locate and complete the correct and appropriate forms.
- Gather other pertinent documents and evidence. This includes financial information, property titles, evidence to support custody, etc.
- File the forms with the court. You must also pay the required fees and serve a copy of the forms on your spouse.
- Await your spouse to respond to your complaint. You must also wait to receive copies of the forms he or she must submit.
- Try to reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce with your spouse.
- Go to mediation if need be.
- Schedule and attend the hearing. In uncontested cases, the court will review your agreement and issue a divorce decree. If you have a contested divorce, the court will hear both sides, review the evidence, rule on, and formalize all the important matters. They will then issue a decree.
Hecht & Associates Can Help You with a No-fault Divorce
Our no-fault divorce attorneys at Hecht & Associates can help you with a no-fault divorce in Maryland, from simple uncontested divorces to complex contested cases. Call our office today at 301-587-2099 to set up your consultation with a no-fault divorce lawyer.