How Long Does a Divorce Take in Maryland?
People may think of divorce as a prolonged process, but it does not need to be that way. If moving things along quickly is a priority for you, you can raise that issue with your lawyers as there are steps that can be taken to hasten the process. In most cases, if you reside in Maryland, laws will govern the steps necessary to obtain a divorce, even if you were married in another state. Once a Marital Separation Agreement has been reached, a Maryland divorce usually takes 30 to 120 days to become final. However, the length of time can vary depending on the specific court, caseload, and availability of judges.
At Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, we find that our clients feel more comfortable when they thoroughly understand the legal process. When a lawyer fails to keep an open, active line of communication with their client, this can result in frustration and disappointment when there are unanticipated delays. Although every divorce is different, most progress along the following timeline.
Making the Decision
The part of divorce that often takes the longest is coming to terms with the fact that your relationship is over, and that it is healthiest for everyone in your family to move on.
Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in Maryland
It is never too early to involve an attorney in your decision to pursue divorce. A good divorce lawyer will guide you through the entire process, and answer all your questions. Conversely, if you are on the receiving end of being served divorce papers, or if your spouse has proposed a Marital Settlement Agreement, you want to contact an experienced lawyer immediately to protect your interests. Regardless of whether you are the initiating spouse or not, your lawyer will begin by talking to you to gather information.
Identifying the Grounds for Divorce
Next, if you are the initiating spouse, your lawyer will file a complaint. The petition tells the court why you want to get a divorce, how you want to settle all issues relating to property, children, assets, debt, etc. Your complaint will also identify the type of divorce you are seeking, and the legal grounds on which you are seeking divorce. Maryland recognizes two types of divorce: limited and absolute. A limited divorce only resolves financial and child custody issues while you and your spouse begin to move apart and consider whether you want to proceed with an absolute divorce. Another option to accomplish the same goals is to draft a Marital Separation Agreement.
If you are filing for an absolute divorce, you must prove at least one “ground” for divorce. In Maryland, there are “no fault” grounds and “fault” grounds. Most divorces will be “no fault.” For these divorces, couples will need to separate a full year before they can file for divorce, unless they have a signed Marital Separation Agreement, and have no children in common under the age of 18. If there is a Marital Separation Agreement, and no minor children, divorce can be quick and relatively painless. If you can prove one of the at fault grounds for divorce, such as adultery, desertion, cruelty, insanity, or conviction of a crime, then you do not have to wait 12 months to get divorced.
Filing for Divorce
Next, your lawyer will file for divorce with the court (in many cases, this occurs after the 12-month separation period). Then, your spouse is served with a copy of the divorce. They must respond, and the court will set a hearing date. Even if your spouse fails to respond, that does not mean that you cannot proceed so long as they have been served. The served spouse must then file an answer within 30 days or sometimes 60. After the receiving spouse files an answer, parties begin exchanging documents and information in issues relating to the case. In some cases, all issues can be resolved via mediation.
Hearing or Trial
If your case does not settle, you must then proceed to trial. Scheduling of a trial can take anywhere from a few months to 18 months, depending on the caseload of the court and each spouse’s willingness to move the proceedings along.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Represent Clients Through All Phases of Divorce
The knowledgeable lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC are always sensitive to our clients’ interests, and we can devise a legal strategy that meets your needs. To learn more about how we can help, contact an experienced Towson divorce lawyer today at 443-589-0150 or contact us online. We proudly serve clients throughout Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County, as well as the communities of Baltimore, Towson, Essex, Columbia, Pikesville, and Bel Air.