In every state, there are laws that dictate how married people get a divorce. The laws and procedures for separation and divorce can be complicated, and Maryland’s laws on divorce are no exception. Going through a legal separation or divorce can be emotionally and financially draining. But you do not have to face it alone. Having a compassionate attorney experienced in Maryland family law on your side will make the process much easier.
Absolute Divorce in Maryland
An absolute divorce under Maryland law is a full and final divorce between two legally married people. Once an absolute divorce is finalized and signed off on by a judge, both parties can remarry at that point. Also, usually, when an absolute divorce is finalized, that means all the property division issues have been dealt with and joint property is split amongst the parties. Usually, this is put in a separate writing called a property settlement agreement that is referenced and attached to the divorce order.
An absolute divorce is distinguished from a limited divorce under Maryland law, in that a limited divorce means that certain issues are resolved but the parties are still legally married. A limited divorce is sometimes referred to as a legal separation, but there is no such term used under Maryland law. Issues such as child custody, child support, and spousal support can be addressed by the court before the final, absolute divorce decree is issued.
Grounds for Absolute Divorce
To receive an absolute divorce in Maryland, the couples need a reason. You should consult with an experienced lawyer before attempting the divorce process yourself. The law provides for several justifications for divorce:
- No-fault divorce or one based on mutual consent
- Irreconcilable differences
- Separation and living apart for at least 12 months
- Jail time after a criminal conviction
- Cruelty or some other kind of physical or mental abuse
- Unreasonably malicious conduct
Do You Need a Lawyer for an Absolute Divorce?
No, you do not need a lawyer; however, it is highly advisable for each member of the couple to have either own legal representation. Divorces can be quite complicated, factually and legally. Unless you are a lawyer yourself, it might be difficult for a lay person to know all the intricacies of the law and the civil procedure at the family court. It would be very easy to make a mistake that could be detrimental and cost you a lot of money to fix.
Also, divorces can be very emotionally draining and quite contentious between the parties. If you and your partner are attempting to handle the divorce yourselves, it might be difficult to communicate with them because of constant arguing and fights. Sometimes, the divorce would never happen because the parties have such acrimony toward each other that nothing can be agreed on because no communications can take place. Having an objective, third party be the conduit between the parties would allow communication without having to deal with your partner directly.
There are many law firms and lawyers who offer mediation services to help couples agree on the issues that have to be resolved so that a divorce could happen. The mediator does not represent one side or the other, but merely discusses the issues with each side to help them come to an agreement themselves. However, if possible, to fully protect your rights and have someone negotiating on your behalf, it is best to hire your own lawyer who knows the law, knows the procedures, knows what is normal, and knows what is possible. Having a lawyer like this on your side will ensure you get the best deal as well as a finalized absolute divorce.
Alternatives to Absolute Divorce
If you and your partner have gone through all the normal things to attempt to save your marriage, such as marriage counseling or a temporary separation, you can hire a lawyer to file for a limited divorce. This is sometimes necessary if your religion does not allow a divorce, but you have been living separately for a long time. A limited divorce will allow you to legally resolve certain issues such as property sharing, child custody, child support, and alimony, and not actually get the final, absolute divorce. Also, a judge may decide what parent lives in the marital home until the final divorce and property settlement can be determined. A limited divorce, of course, is used when the parties cannot agree on these preliminary issues on their own. If that is the case, someone must make a decision; under Maryland law, that would be a judge.
The Cost of a Maryland Divorce
Every state is different, and every case is different. Therefore, it is difficult to give a set dollar figure on the cost of hiring a lawyer, creating all the necessary documents, and filing them with the court. Also, every lawyer is different, with different skill levels. Most family law attorneys charge by the hour, plus the client must pay certain filing fees and litigation expenses. Some divorces are very easy and will not be expensive. However, some can be quite complex and can take years of litigation to resolve. It could take several thousands of dollars on each side in lawyer’s fees to get a final divorce. It just depends on the particulars of the case. Here are some things that might increase the overall cost of the divorce:
- Are there minor children, and will there be a dispute as to a custody arrangement and child support?
- How much property does the couple own, and will there be a dispute about the separation of the property, i.e., who gets what?
- Will one side make a claim for alimony?
Experiencing the ending of your marriage can be a horrible thing. The skilled Bel Air divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones and Miles, LLC, are available to help during this challenging time. Our team is experienced in helping clients reach a mutual agreement and settlement that benefit the whole family. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.