Uncontested Divorce in Maryland

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Like all other states in the USA, Maryland has legal provisions for uncontested divorce. Separating spouses who are confident enough to take decisions about their future and also the ongoing issues of divorce opt for this particular process. When you are in Maryland you have to abide by the state-specific laws and procedures. So it is better to possess a good understanding of an uncontested divorce in Maryland before going through the proceedings.

Venue for filing an Uncontested Divorce in Maryland

In Maryland, the Circuit Court is the venue for filing the action. The individual filing the action is known as the Plaintiff. The spouse responding to the action is termed as the Defendant.

The divorce case may be filed in the Circuit Court of any county where either partner resides.

Residency Requirements

If the grounds for divorce happened outside the state, one of the partners need to be a resident of the state for a period of at least 1 year. Again if insanity is the grounds, the residency criterion is 2 years.

Grounds for Uncontested Divorce in Maryland

Grounds for a no-fault case in this state are described as follows:

  • A mutual and voluntary separation for 1 year. This 1 year must be in the absence of cohabitation or interruption and there must be no reasonable possibility of reconciliation.
  • A separation for 2 years in the absence of sexual relations or cohabitation.

In case of the first point mentioned above, the divorcing couple has to reside for 12 consecutive months under separate roofs and should not engage in sexual relations with each other. This 12 month clock starts all over again, if the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • There are sexual relations between the couple.
  • The couple resides together.
  • The couple spends a day together under the same roof.

Grounds for a fault case in this state are as follows:

  • Excessive vicious conduct
  • Cruelty
  • Imprisonment for minimum 3 years with 1 year already served
  • Insanity for minimum 3 years
  • Desertion for 1 year
  • Adultery

The Hearing

The separating couple has to file a joint request for an uncontested divorce hearing. Such a couple must carry along with them the following forms for the hearing:

  • Submission to Judgment: This document is used to waive the right of appeal.
  • Separation Agreement.
  • Witness identification information.
  • Child support guidelines: This is essential when the couple has children.
  • A copy of the marriage license: This form can be substituted by the witness who was present at the wedding.
  • A report of Absolute Divorce: This is termed as the "blue form". This form can be procured from the court and is utilized for record keeping.

In this state, the Family Law Master hears the uncontested cases. The findings and recommendations of the Master at the hearing are the basis of the Decree of Divorce. Further, the Judge signs the Decree and it is mailed to the partners within a short span of time. It is mandatory for the Plaintiff and optional for the Defendant to remain present at the divorce hearing.

The Effort

When the Defendant does not respond during a specified time period, the Plaintiff can file a Request for Default. Further, the Order for Default is issued and on obtaining it, the Plaintiff can plan an uncontested hearing. However, it is advised that the Plaintiff makes an "effort" to find out the missing spouse, prior to taking the above steps.

The "effort" comprises of the following steps and is done in good faith:

  • Browsing the Internet and searching directory assistance and telephone directories.
  • The investigation of a private investigator.
  • Sending letters to neighbors, the last known employer, friends and relatives.
  • Attempts to serve process, at the last known address, by certified mail.
  • Establishing contact with the child support enforcement agency.
  • Referencing the Military Service Locator.
  • Making a search of the Maryland motor vehicle administration.

Some key points to note

When you and your spouse decide to go for an uncontested divorce, and if you have children, you must ensure that the divorce does not have a negative impact on the lives of the children. No one can understand your children better than you; so you must take an initiative in resolving the issues like child custody, visitation and child support.

The above-mentioned point is also relevant in case of couples wanting an uncontested case in Maryland. It may happen that you are not able to take any wise decision regarding your children or property distribution. In such cases, you may consult a lawyer regarding the specific problems instead of hiring their services throughout the whole process.

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