You can learn how to get a divorce in Maryland and find the help you need by using the resources below. Here you can connect with attorneys and other divorce professionals, get MD divorce papers, support services, and look over the relevant laws on divorce. If you need other information about getting divorced, understanding child custody and support issues, or could use some tips on starting over you can also check out our divorce articles by using the main navigation.
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Maryland Residency Requirements for Divorce and Where to File:
To initiate a divorce, the cause for divorce must either have occurred within the state (for which there is no residency time period), or if the cause of divorce happened outside of Maryland, at least one party must be a Maryland resident for at least 6 months prior to filing. To file for a divorce or separation, you should file your petition in the county where you live or in the county where your spouse lives.
An annulment may be granted by the court if it determines the marriage is void due to:
An annulment may also be granted if the marriage would be considered voidable due to:
Legal Separation in Maryland (Limited Divorce):
There is no such thing as a “legal separation” in Maryland. Instead, the court may grant a limited divorce based on the following grounds:
The court may grant a limited divorce if there is not enough evidence to grant an absolute divorce. Issues such as use of the family home, child custody and support, and alimony may all be determined in a limited divorce, but property issues won't be resolved. A limited divorce may be withdrawn upon the joint application of both spouses.
Grounds for Divorce in Maryland:
In order to grant an absolute divorce in Maryland, one or more of the following grounds must exist:
If the court has previously granted a limited divorce (separation) based on desertion or abandonment, which at the time did not meet the grounds to grant an absolute divorce, then an absolute divorce may be obtained once the time requirements are met.
While a couple is generally required to be separated for at least a year prior to filing for a divorce, legislature was passed in 2015 and 2018 in which an absolute divorce can be granted on the ground of mutual consent, without a waiting period. To qualify, the couple must have a written agreement resolving all issues relating to division of the marital estate, as well parenting and support provisions for their children.
Special Divorce Provisions:
If a couple has children, some circuit court may require parents to attend a special seminar designed to educate them on the different ways in which divorce may affect their children and how to minimize the trauma.
The court may also order either party to pay for the legal fees and expenses of the other spouse as determined by the financial resources of each spouse and if there was justification for prosecuting or defending the proceeding.
Property division in a Maryland divorce or annulment:
Property and debts acquired while married are deemed marital property and may be divided in the divorce, regardless of which spouse's name is on the title. Separate property or debt is not divisible in the divorce and includes property and debt which was acquired before the marriage, was an inheritance or gift from a third party, is excluded by a valid agreement, or is directly traceable to separate property.
If a couple is unable to decide how to divide their property and debts on their own, it will be determined by the court. When determining what kind of property division would be fair, the court takes into account:
When awarding the family home, the court may take grant possession to the custodial parent in an effort to provide continuing stability with regards to the minor children. Towards this end, the court may order either or both spouses to pay the mortgage or expenses for the family home. An award of use and possession of the marital home terminates
How is alimony determined in Maryland?
Either party may receive alimony in actions for annulment, separation, or divorce. When considering whether or not to award alimony, the amount, and the duration the court considers:
The court may order the paying spouse to pay for the cost of continuing medical coverage in some circumstances. The court may also award alimony for an indefinite period in two instances: 1) if it finds that the dependent spouse is incapable of becoming self-supporting due to age or physical incapability, or 2) if there will continue to be a huge disparity between the spouses standard of living once the dependent spouse is capable of being self-supporting.
Unless agreed to otherwise, alimony ends when either spouse dies, if the receiving spouse remarries, or if continuance would lead to inequitable results.
Name Change in Maryland:
A stipulation to restore either a maiden name or previous last name may be added in your divorce decree if you no longer wish to use your husband's last name and there are no fraudulent reasons for the name change request.
Maryland Child Custody:
Unless the parents can reach an agreement regarding custody, the court may award custody to either parent or jointly to both parents without favor given to either gender. The custody determination will be based on the children’s “best interests” and the circuit court may appoint legal counsel to represent the needs of the child in cases where custody, visitation, or support is contested.
In making the determination of custody and visitation, the court will consider a wide range of factors including who is the primary care-giver, whether there has been evidence of abuse, the willingness of the parents to work together, both the parents and the child’s preference regarding custody, how long a parent has been separated from the child, the possible disruption of the child's life, and anything else the court considers relevant.
Once a child is 16, he or she can petition the court for a change in custody, which will result in a hearing to determine whether to grant the custody change or not.
Child Support in Maryland:
Child support is determined by a mathematical formula which uses the combined adjusted incomes of both parents and the custody arrangements for the child or children. If alimony will be awarded in the case, the amount will be considered as income for the parent receiving alimony. In cases where one parent is awarded residential custody, the basic child support guidelines shall be followed.
In cases of shared physical custody, the basic child support obligation will be split between the parents proportionately to their adjusted incomes. This amount will then be multiplied by the parenting time percentage for both parents to determine how much each parent would owe. The parent owing the larger amount will pay the other parent the difference.
The court also takes into consideration daycare expenses, cost of insurance or medical care, support being paid for other children, and costs of transportation for the children. Child support levels can be modified later on if a parent can show a substantial and ongoing change in circumstances.
Child support shall continue until the child reaches the age of majority (18 or graduating from high school), becomes emancipated, dies, or marries. Child support may be extended if the child cannot be self-supporting due to mental or physical disability or would be considered destitute.
Law Office of Shelly Ingram, LLC
Shelly M. Ingram
8161 Maple Lawn Blvd, Suite 330
Fulton, MD 20759
Specializing in: Collaboration, Negotiation, Mediation and Litigation
Areas Served: Howard, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Prince George's & Baltimore counties
McCabe Russell, PA
Areas Served: Maryland and Washington, DC
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Maryland parents that have a family court case may be required to attend parenting classes to learn how parental conflict affects their children. These classes discuss how parents can recognize the signs of distress in their children and how they can help ease their transition and turmoil. Many counties in the state offer co-parenting classes, and you can contact your county courthouse to learn more about times and locations.
1657 Crofton Parkway
Crofton, MD 21114
Locations: Central MD (Howard, Prince Georges, and Baltimore counties)
This is a non-denominational support group for men and women who are dealing with separation and divorce. They also offer support to people who have lost a spouse due to death. Discussions can help participants deal with the loneliness, anger, and depression which often occurs after a spouse is gone. Participants can also talk about the economic adjustments that need to be made after the loss of their spouse's income. Each meeting will have an informative presentation by a skilled professional to discuss the various topics that arise after a marriage ends. They even have groups for individual wishing to start over with a new relationship, giving information and inspiration to move into more effective relationship skills.