Every state has different rules governing divorce. If you live in Maryland and are planning to get a divorce, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the process so that you know what to expect.
Maryland state law provides for two kinds of divorce, absolute and limited. You should consult an experienced divorce lawyer to determine what your best legal option is as the grounds for filing are different. For more information see our guide “Grounds for Divorce in Maryland.”
How to Start
To start the divorce process, you may file a complaint with the court, making you the plaintiff in the case. The complaint must be signed under oath and then served. Your spouse will have to file a response with the court, which is also signed under oath. The answer can admit or deny to the allegations, but can also not admit or deny anything. Then a hearing will be scheduled for a time usually several months away, so that both parties can prepare properly.
When you file for divorce, the court will ask you if matters such as child custody and property division will be decided by you and your spouse, or if you will require the help of the court in reaching an agreement. If your divorce is uncontested, you may want to consider using alternative methods to litigation which is always more time consuming and expensive. Mediation and collaborative divorce are options that a good divorce lawyer will encourage if they are possible in your situation.
Contested vs Absolute Divorce
If your divorce is contested, you will eventually go to trial after the next steps. First is the process of discovery, which is used by both sides to outline each spouse’s position. This is when the attorneys gather financial information, any third-party documentation, allow for property appraisals, and hear testimony of witnesses.
A pendent lite hearing is held to settle short term financial issues between this point and the final hearing or trial. Topics that will be discussed include alimony, child support and visitation time, attorney’s fees, suit money, and bill payments.
Settlement and status conferences are used to settle issues such as child custody and property division. The joint property statement will be reviewed at this conference and attendance is mandatory. Reports from experts like a custody evaluator and the best interest attorney may be heard.
The last step in the divorce process is the merit hearing or trial. How soon your case goes to trial depends on how busy the courts are and the willingness of the two parties to work together to resolve matters. It can take weeks or years depending on the individual circumstances of your case. A judge or a Master will hear all the evidence and make final decisions on the issues that need to be decided. The court will then grant you an absolute divorce which means you are free to remarry.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Offer Counsel in Divorce
At Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, we have the knowledge and experience to help you through this difficult time. Whether you are separating or seeking an absolute divorce, we can advise you on how to best proceed. Call us today at 443-589-0150 or contact us online to schedule a confidential appointment with a dedicated Towson divorce lawyer. Our offices are conveniently located in Hunt Valley and Towson, serving clients in Baltimore, Towson, Essex, Bel Air, Columbia, and Pikesville.