In this article, you will learn about:
- What happens when you file for divorce in Maryland.
- The different paths you might pursue in a divorce.
- Options for those experiencing custody issues in the early stages of a divorce.
What Are The Options Available To A Couple Proceeding With A Divorce In Maryland?
It can be helpful to think of divorce cases as having the potential to proceed down two different tracks.
Option One – Contested Divorce
On the one hand, a case may proceed through litigation in the courts. Our firm can provide representation to our clients in court to effectively achieve their goals in the litigation process – if that’s the route that needs to be taken in order to accomplish the client’s goals.
When the parties getting a divorce can’t agree on certain issues because their relationship has broken down to a point where having a conversation is difficult and ineffective – litigation may be the only option. So, when a client comes into our office, we speak with them about exactly what those issues are and how we can resolve them. Some of the questions we’ll ask our clients include:
- Are you separated from your spouse?
- Do you have any children with your spouse?
- What property or possessions do each of the parties have?
- What grounds for divorce might be available?
After getting this information, we can provide uniquely tailored solutions to address the client’s issues. Getting to know our client’s specific circumstances allows us to advise clients as to how we would approach their case if they do decide to pursue divorce.
Option Two – Uncontested Divorce
The other option is to see if the parties can come to an amicable agreement.
There are certainly people who come into our office and say, “Look, my spouse and I have spoken. We’ve decided that we want a divorce, and we’ve been able to do it amicably, but we need help with this process.” As an attorney, my duties are to the client who comes into our office, not to both spouses. So, I will counsel my clients through the process and explain everything they need to know about what they are facing. We discuss the client’s agreement with their spouse thoroughly and other potential issues which could arise which the client may not have been aware of.
If an agreement can be reached and put into place, our client’s often find that the process is much quicker and less stressful than litigation. Most times, uncontested divorces are the quickest route to getting a divorce.
What Happens If My Spouse And I Cannot Agree On Custody Or Other Matters In A Divorce?
Regarding custody, the courts in Maryland provide some interim relief while couples are trying to form a parenting arrangement.
Typically, the lifespan of divorce and custody cases ranges anywhere from about eight to twelve months – if the case goes to trial. Oftentimes, one or both spouses will need the Court’s assistance in ordering a temporary custody schedule while the case is pending. This is often referred to as pendente lite relief and can provide stability to an otherwise volatile situation.
At the beginning of your case, you can ask the court for a Pendente Lite Hearing (often referred to as a “PL Hearing”), which is essentially a hearing to establish certain, temporary terms on issues such as custody, access, child support and even alimony. The purpose of a Pendente Lite Hearing is to get the parties a Court hearing so that certain issues may be resolved on a temporary basis while the case is pending. For example, the Court may order a temporary custody and access schedule for the parties to follow while the case is pending so the parties have a definitive, short-term plan.
With a pendente lite hearing, the parties don’t have to wait until the final merits trial in their case to get relief from the Court. A pendente lite schedule can be put in place to stabilize the situation. In the meantime, your attorney will always be working to ensure that your goals for the long-term are met. We are constantly analyzing our client’s litigation strategy and trying to put our clients in the best possible position should the case go to trial.
What Happens After Someone Has Filed For A Divorce In Maryland?
Before filing for divorce, the first step in the divorce process is to determine whether you have “grounds” for divorce – meaning, a legally recognized basis to obtain a divorce. Maryland law sets forth certain criteria that must be met in order for an individual to be granted a limited or absolute divorce.
If grounds for divorce exist, the next step would be to file a Complaint with the Court. This Complaint will explain:
- The background of the case;
- Why and on what grounds the client is seeking the divorce;
What the client is asking for the Court to award him or her, including property, a monetary award, alimony, custody, visitation, child support and a number of other possible forms of relief.
After the Complaint has been filed, the Court will issue a Writ of Summons and service will need to be made on the opposing party (or parties). If you serve the opposing party in the State of Maryland, that person or entity will have 30 days to respond. If that person or entity is served outside the State of Maryland, they will have 60 days to respond. If that person or entity is served outside of the country, they will have 90 days to respond. Generally, after the other party has been served, the case will proceed in its normal course.
From start to finish, there are a number of complex steps and procedures involved in divorce litigation. For more information on Proceeding With A Divorce In Maryland, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (410) 650-4242 today.