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How to File for Divorce in Maryland

patrickcrawford | January 30, 2024

In this article, you’ll learn the three different ways to approach a divorce in Maryland, the residency requirements for filing, the documents you’ll need, and the steps required. Filing for divorce in Maryland just got a lot easier after some new laws took effect in October of 2023. Discuss your options with an Annapolis divorce attorney.

 

Three Approaches to Getting Divorced in Maryland

Before you begin the process of getting divorced in Maryland, you’ll need to figure out whether you want to hire a lawyer, do it yourself, or file online. 

 

Statistics do show that couples who hire Maryland divorce lawyers tend to reach more amicable resolutions and are more likely to agree to joint custody. If you and your spouse have no children or property and can’t afford to hire an attorney, it is possible to handle it yourself. There are plenty of resources available for guidance in bookstores, online, and even at the courthouse. 

 

The third method, filing online, is more hands-on than filing yourself and less involved than hiring legal representation. You will file your divorce in the circuit court in your county or your spouse’s county, regardless of which method you choose.

 

Residency Requirements for Maryland Divorces

To qualify to file your divorce in Maryland, either you or your spouse must physically live in the state. If you and your spouse experienced irreconcilable differences or are living separate lives in Maryland, there is no time limit for how long you’ve lived here to file here. If you and your spouse experienced irreconcilable differences or are living separate lives outside Maryland, you must live here for six months before you can file for divorce. Irreconcilable differences and living separate lives for six months are the grounds for divorce in Maryland.

 

Steps & Documents to File Divorce in Maryland

Here are the steps to get divorced in Maryland:

  1. File a Complaint for Absolute Divorce to get the process started. You’ll file it at your local circuit court.
  2. If you and your spouse own property together, you’ll also need to file a Property Settlement Agreement. If you have children together or one of you is seeking spousal support, a Financial Statement will be needed.
  3. Bring these completed documents along with two copies to the civil desk at your local circuit court. You’ll pay the filing fee or apply for a fee waiver at this time.
  4. You’ll need to serve your spouse with the divorce papers. There are specific requirements on how to do this. You can not do it yourself—it must be a third party. Hiring a professional process server is also an option.
  5. After being served, your spouse must file an answer with the court. If no answer is filed, you will need to file a Request for Order of Default.
  6. If your spouse does properly file an answer within the time limit, the next step is your Master Hearing. There will also be a hearing if your spouse does not answer.
  7. The final step after your hearing is for the judge to issue the official Judgment of Divorce. After a court issues this decree, you are eligible to remarry.

 

Contact an Annapolis Divorce Attorney Today

The Law Office of Patrick Crawford, a Maryland divorce attorney, can help you navigate this intimidating process, file the necessary paperwork on your behalf, take care of serving the papers, schedule the necessary hearings, and everything else that needs to get done. Contact us today for a free consultation

Patrick Crawford

Patrick is an Annapolis Family Lawyer dedicated to helping you through the most complex and emotional family law matters. During his career, Patrick has successfully represented countless people in divorce, child custody, child support, domestic violence and other family law cases of diverse complexity.

Years of experience: 20+ years.
Maryland Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Patrick Crawford, who has more than 16 years of legal experience practicing family law.