Divorce Attorney in Baltimore, Maryland
Divorce is more common than ever. While some can agree to terms outside of court, others are not able and need a court’s intervention to iron out the details of the split. Most cases share the same issues that must be addressed, including alimony, the division of marital property, child support, and child custody. For many, divorce is often the only and most significant legal matter a person will face in their lifetime. We understand that these are tough and stressful situations and we are dedicated to guiding you through and helping you overcome this obstacle. For a consultation with an experienced Baltimore, Maryland divorce attorney, contact Decker, Tychostup & Friedman.
Absolute divorce vs. limited divorce
In Maryland, a person can get either an absolute divorce or a limited divorce. An absolute divorce is what many other states consider a regular divorce. The couple is no longer married after the court finalizes the matter. A limited divorce is more commonly referred to as a legal separation in other states. The couple is still married and there is no severance of marital bonds. If the couple decides, they can use the limited divorce to obtain an absolute divorce after a year of living separately. Deciding between the two depends on one’s circumstances. While some are happy with a limited divorce because of the benefits that are retained, others use it to get in line for a divorce after a year.
Grounds for an absolute divorce
For a person in Maryland to get an absolute divorce, he or she will have to provide legally-acceptable reasons, also known as grounds. Grounds can either be fault grounds or no-fault grounds.
No-fault grounds include a 12-month separation and mutual consent. Using 12-month separation as grounds provides the legal means to get an absolute divorce without the other’s consent and avoids the legal pitfalls of the defendant being able to answer fault grounds. Mutual consent is also a no-fault divorce in which couples agree to terms of the split through a settlement agreement.
Fault grounds are another story. Fault grounds can be answered by the defendant and must be proven by the plaintiff. Below are some acceptable grounds for an absolute divorce.
- Conviction of a crime (under certain circumstances)
- Vicious conduct
For most, using no-fault grounds is a simpler process that does not need to involve the other’s consent or evidence to prove fault.
Grounds for a limited divorce
For a person to get a limited divorce, he or she will need to cite grounds as well. These include:
- Separation without cohabitation
- Excessive vicious conduct
In order to get a divorce in Maryland, a court must establish jurisdiction. This is completed by the parties’ ability to satisfy the residency requirement and cite grounds. In order to satisfy the residency requirement, one must consider where the grounds took place. For residents of the state, grounds that took place within the state, there is no waiting period and one can sue for divorce in any county where one of the spouses lives. If grounds for divorce occurred outside of Maryland, the plaintiff must reside in the state for 1 year before filing. For rare cases when a person files insanity for grounds, the state requires 2 years of residency.
Filing for divorce
Once grounds have been cited and residency requirement satisfied, one can file for divorce. After filing a complaint or petition, the court will issue a summons. The other party, the defendant, must be properly served. The court will send the summons and petition to the party you choose to serve the defendant, either the sheriff’s department or a private process server. Whichever party you choose will sign an affidavit of return of service, proof that it was successfully served.
Finalizing the divorce
- Uncontested hearing: While some couples will choose to work things out and execute a separation agreement, others ask the court to decide on the matter. A separation agreement is a written statement that is provided to the court addressing all marital issues to be used “on the record” and incorporated into the final decree of divorce. Though the couple may have agreed to terms outside of court, they will still need to attend a final hearing. For those who are divorcing on the grounds of mutual consent, both parties must attend. Once completed, the court should issue a final decree, finalizing the divorce.
- Trial: If the couple cannot come to terms outside of court, they may need the court’s intervention. The court will hold a trial and decide on the contested issues. Once completed, it will issue a final judgment or decree.
Contact Decker, Tychostup & Friedman
If you are facing divorce, it is important to discuss your matter with an experienced legal team. Decker, Tychostup & Friedman is an effective divorce law firm located in Baltimore, Maryland. Our firm works closely with clients as they face significant family law issues. Divorce is never pleasant. Our attorneys are dedicated to mitigating the effects on your life and protecting your rights and future. Contact Decker, Tychostup & Friedman for a consultation to discuss your legal matter.