Divorce is quite a stressful event in the life of every person. Hardly anyone’s thinking about it during the marriage ceremony, but unfortunately, there are situations when divorce is inevitable. It’s considered that marriage dissolution is a costly drama. However, this is not always true. If the spouses are ready to solve controversial issues outside the walls of the court and do not turn their dissolution into a war, they have the right to receive an uncontested divorce. It can be completed in 2-3 months.
Overview of an Uncontested Divorce in Maryland
The traditional way of a divorce is contested, which passes through the court. Those spouses who have too many disagreements and cannot reach a compromise on the key issues of their dissolution will claim it. In this case, all the contradictions are decided by the judge. However, quite often, there are situations when the husband or wife is not satisfied with the decision of the judge on any issue. A contested divorce may last for years and may incur high financial costs since husband and wife will have to hire lawyers. Lawyers defend the interests of their clients in court, as well as fight for the best conditions of the divorce. The price of such services can be very high.
An uncontested divorce is more straightforward. Its essence lies in the fact that the husband and wife can agree on all provisions of their dissolution. Including the separation of common property and custody of children, as well as alimony and child support. Consequently, the couple will not have to participate in litigation, and the divorce can be completed in 2-3 months from the moment of filing a lawsuit with a court. Also, a distinctive feature of an uncontested divorce is that spouses can cope with everything without a lawyer, which makes such a dissolution relatively inexpensive.
Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in Maryland
An uncontested divorce is considered an easy and affordable way to dissolve a marriage. Nevertheless, it has its conditions. The main requirement is the lack of disagreement. All disputes can be resolved by spouses independently, with the help of lawyers or mediators. However, this must be settled before the spouses go to court. As a result of the discussions, the couple must sign the Settlement Agreement. It is a contract that governs the division of common property, child custody, spousal support, child support, and any other disputes that exist between spouses.
The next condition is grounds for divorce. In Maryland, it’s possible to get a divorce by no-fault and fault reasons. But for the uncontested divorce, only no-fault grounds are suitable that say that the spouses have no complaints against each other because the relationship is broken. The no-fault grounds in Maryland means that spouses live separately and apart for one continuous year.
And finally, the couple must meet the residency requirements. It means that a couple can file for divorce if one of the spouses has lived in Maryland for at least one year. However, if the grounds for divorce occurred in Maryland, the spouses can file for divorce immediately, provided that the husband or wife is a resident of the state.
Maryland Divorce Papers
A marriage dissolution begins when the county clerk accepts the documents for divorce. However, they must first be filled out. The forms necessary for the dissolution of marriage differ depending on the characteristics of the couple and county. The basic list of divorce papers for uncontested dissolution includes:
- Complaint for Divorce – the form that determines the parties of the divorce, children, grounds, and related questions.
- Civil-Domestic Case Information Report – the form that must be filled out by both spouses, it describes the essence of the case.
- Joint Statement of Parties Concerning Marital and Non-Marital Property – each spouse must complete this form. It contains a list of all marital and separate property, as well as its value.
- Financial Statement (short) – the form that determines the financial situation of the spouses.
- The Affidavit of Service – a form that confirms that the defendant received all the necessary divorce papers.
- Joint Request to Schedule an Uncontested Divorce Hearing
- Child Support Guidelines Worksheet – the form by which the spouses ask the court to set the date of the hearing for an uncontested divorce.
- Decree of Divorce – a form that ends a marriage when signed by the judge.
- Settlement Agreement.
It is also necessary to make copies of all documents filed with the court since they will need to be sent to the respondent. Pay attention to the fact that county clerck may ask you to file additional forms. Therefore, before filing a lawsuit, it makes sense to consult and clarify which particular package of documents is needed in your case. Also, note that the county clerk does not provide legal advice.
Filing for Divorce in Maryland
When all papers are ready, the plaintiff must file them with the court, as well as pay the court fee. If the forms are filled out correctly, the court will accept the case, after which the claimant must send copies of the documents to the defendant. It is also known as serving the spouse. If the claimant is confident that the respondent will accept and sign the divorce papers, he can hand them over personally. Otherwise, the plaintiff can take advantage of the sheriff or private process server. The respondents, in turn, must sign the documents and give consent to participate in the action. After the court receives the papers from the defendant, it will set a date for the final hearing. Usually, only the plaintiff should be present at the hearing. The meeting will last about 10 minutes, at which the judge will ask a couple of questions regarding the divorce, to make sure that the spouses agree. However, the date of the divorce will be considered the one when the judge will sign the Divorce Decree.
Divorce Without a Lawyer
An uncontested divorce is an affordable way to dissolve a marriage so that you can get it without the help of a lawyer. All necessary information regarding the process can be obtained on the website of the courts of Maryland, the People’s Law Library and the Family Law Self-Help Centers. Moreover, all forms can also be found on the Internet.
There is also a service that helps spouses prepare all forms needed for the court. It is called Online Divorce. Answering questions about their marriage and dissolution, the spouses send information to the system, based on which it chooses and fills out the necessary divorce forms. It happens fairly quickly so that in just a couple of business days, the spouses will receive the completed papers along with instructions on how to file for divorce. Online divorce is an excellent alternative to lawyers, as well as an opportunity to save money during a divorce.