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DO IT YOURSELF DIVORCE IN MARYLAND

If you and your spouse can agree and are both willing to sign the divorce papers, then filing your own divorce is easy as along as you prepare and file the proper documents. Filing your own divorce without a lawyer is very common in the state of Maryland.

Grounds for Filing for a Maryland Divorce

No-fault: Mutual Consent when there are no minor children and the couples sign a Marital Settlement Agreement.

Maryland recognizes eight different grounds for fault divorce. They are adultery, desertion (for at least 12 months), voluntary separation (for at least 12 months), imprisonment (with a sentence of at least three years and at least 12 months already served), living separate and apart (for at least two years), hospitalization of one spouse for insanity (for at least three years), cruel treatment toward the other spouse or a minor child (with no reasonable expectation of reconciliation) or excessive vicious conduct toward the other spouse or a minor child (with no reasonable expectation of reconciliation).

These fault based grounds must be proved in court through evidence and testimony for the court to grant a divorce in Maryland.

Residency Rules For a Maryland Divorce

To file for a divorce in Maryland, a couple must be married or living in the state for at least one year, or two years depending on the grounds to file for divorce.

Maryland Divorce Filing Process

The plaintiff files the divorce papers in the Circuit Court of his or her county of residence.

Once the forms are completed, the court clerk issues a Writ of Summons along with a copy of the Complaint. The Complaint and the Summons must then be served on the defendant spouse.

The defendant may be served the Complaint and the Writ of Summons in a number of different ways. Once service is completed, the plaintiff should receive proof of service from the server, be it the sheriff, a private process server, a third party or the U.S. Postal Service's receipt. This proof, which is in the form of an Affidavit, shows that the defendant was properly served. Learn the best ways to save money when doing your own divorce in Maryland.

divorce process Both spouses complete Financial Statements, which include information about each party's individual assets, liabilities, income and expenses as well as any joint property and debts. If either side requests child support, the court relies on the information in these statements to make an order. Therefore it is very important that the financial information be as accurate as possible.

In a contested action, the defendant files an Answer to the divorce Complaint, which allows him or her to admit or deny the statements contained in the divorce Complaint.

The defendant has 30 days to file an answer if he or she lives in Maryland, an out-of-state defendant has 60 days, and a defendant who is out of the country has up to 90 days to file an answer. Here is more information regarding the process of filing uncontested divorce papers in Maryland.

The defendant may also file a Counter Complaint for Absolute Divorce. Unlike the Answer, the counter Complaint allows the defendant to state grounds different than what the plaintiff wrote in the initial Complaint. The answer and/or counter Complaint may be mailed to the plaintiff.

The Answer depends on the jurisdiction, and whether the spouses are in agreement. An uncontested divorce in Maryland can be completed in as little as thirty days, and a fully litigated case can take more than a year. Similarly, mediation may take several sessions, over months or years depending on the complexity of the case and how much the spouses' positions vary.

Do It Yourself Online Divorce in Maryland

Our online divorce makes it easy to file your own divorce in the state of Maryland. In as little as 20 minutes you can have all your completed divorce forms and filing instructions ready for signing and filing. Instantly access your completed divorce forms after a short online interview. It is that easy, no lengthy completion or delivery times. See if you qualify below:

Maryland Property Division Upon Divorce

Unless the couple can reach a settlement, the court divides the marital property -- pension, retirement, profit sharing or deferred-compensation plans. Maryland requires equitable distribution of property in a divorce. The court determines a fair award of assets and debt. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather fair. The court considers contributions of each spouse, the well being of the family, property values, the economic circumstances of each spouse as well as current situations such as age, mental state, the duration of the marriage, and the interest each spouse has in the property.

Separate property acquired before the marriage or a debt incurred prior to the marriage is separate as is property acquired after the date of separation or acquired during the marriage but kept separate. Gifts or inheritances are separate property. Separate property is not included in marital property.

In the financial disclosure, spouses share the same information -- income from all sources, all expenses, a list of all assets and a list of all debts. The listed items should include property owned jointly with the spouse and all separate property.

When dividing property, the Maryland court classifies the parties' assets as marital or non-marital.

After the court classifies assets as marital or non-marital (separate), it considers the contribution of each partner to accumulation of marital property; any dissipation of marital property, if any; both the market value and the sentimental value of the property to be divided; the value of each spouse's separate property; any tax or other economic consequences of the property division; the extent to which an award of property may eliminate the need for alimony; and each spouses overall need for financial security. Property brought into the marriage or inherited may not be subject to equitable distribution.

As in other jurisdictions, divorcing couples normally sell the marital home and divide the profits, or sell the home to one party and refinance, or the custodial parent occupies the house until the last child leaves school and then they sell it.

The court may include the retirement benefits and plans earned by both spouses as marital assets available for division. Retirement plans are either Defined Contribution Plans (DC), such as a 401(k), or Defined Benefit Plans (DB), which is the company pension. That part of a pension accumulated during a marriage is community property and subject to distribution. When spouses share in each other's pension plan, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be prepared. The QDRO spells out the terms and conditions of the pension distribution.

How Alimony Works in Maryland

The court awards alimony on a case-by-case basis and decides the amount and duration of spousal support, based on what it considers a fair and equitable award for both parties. Either party to a divorce may seek alimony, and Maryland courts may consider fault in awarding alimony.

Alimony influences the distribution of property, and it can become intricately involved in a divorce settlement. So if one spouse is awarded alimony, this may offset his or her share of the marital property.

The court considers the parties financial needs and other relevant factors in awarding alimony. Alimony terminates upon the death of either party, upon the remarriage of the recipient, or due to change of circumstances.

The court usually considers the duration of the marriage and age and health of the spouse, the existing financial assets of the spouse, the ability of the spouse to be self-sustaining (as well as the time required for the spouse to receive sufficient training to enter the workforce) and the standard of living during the course of the marriage. The court considers what the spouse received during the division of marital property, including retirement benefits from the other spouse.

Alimony may be awarded to one spouse temporarily or indefinitely, depending on circumstances. Temporary alimony may be granted during the divorce proceedings and before the final decree. Short-term alimony may be granted to allow the recipient time to gain necessary skills. Long-term, or permanent, alimony may be granted to a spouse who has significant needs, and is usually reserved for lengthy marriages.

Custody and Visitation Time in Maryland

In Maryland the court awards joint custody or sole custody. The court denies custody to a party if it believes that the party abused or neglected the child and further abuse seems likely.

In Maryland, when the parties agree to shared parental rights and responsibilities, the court makes an award absent substantial evidence to the contrary. Like all jurisdictions, the court applies the best interests of the child standard. The court may not show preference for one parent because of either parent's gender or the child's age and gender. The court may grant grandparent or third-party visitation.

When a couple seeking divorce has minor children, the court can order an investigation by a third party to gather information about the circumstances of the divorce, the parents and the children. This report goes to the court no later than three days before the hearing. Interested parties can request the testimony of the investigator. The couple incurs costs of all or part of the investigation if for any other reason than suspected abuse or neglect.

In Maryland, the court awards custody based on the parents' agreement, unless the best interests of the child require otherwise. When the parents do not agree or if the agreement is not in the best interests of the child, the court awards joint custody, unless clear and convincing evidence shows that the child's best interests is served by sole custody. Factors for determining the child's best interests include a stable environment and the primary caretaker preference. The parent not awarded custody receives reasonable visitation.

Calculating Maryland Child Support

In Maryland, child support guidelines are statutory. Child support is based on the Income Shares Model and is based on gross income of the parents. Therefore the monthly support amount for the child is proportionally shared between the two parents. One parent pays the other parent his or her share of child support.

In the Income Shares model, a child receives the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have been received if the parents had not divorced because in an intact household, both parents pool their income and spend it for the benefit of all household members, including any children. Income Share considers the gross income of both parents and then establishes the proportion each contributes and divides it among their minor children. Considerations will also be made for existing debt, property settlement, mortgages, other children or any other financial considerations.

If the noncustodial parent earns more than the custodial parent, the noncustodial parent assumes a higher share of the child's support, but if the noncustodial parent earns less than the custodial parent, he or she pays a smaller share of the support.

Maryland Child Support Guidelines and Worksheets:

Proper Service for Maryland Divorce Papers

The plaintiff/petitioner serves his or her spouse the divorce papers promptly after filing. The divorce papers are the summons and the complaint, and they are delivered together, but they are not served on Sundays. Service of process can be done in several ways, including first class and certified mail or delivery by the sheriff for fee. The defendant may also waive the service, and simply accept the summons. If the location of the spouse cannot be found after a reasonable search, the plaintiff/petitioner may file for divorce by publishing notice in the newspaper instead.

A Simple Divorce Process
Step 1 See if you qualify & create account!
Step 2 Answer the questions at your own pace.
Step 3 Print, sign and file your divorce forms with your local court (instantly review & print your forms online or have them sent US Priority Mail at no additional charge).

START HERE

Only $299 (flat-fee)

or 2 monthly payments of $157
or 3 monthly payments of $109
or 4 monthly payments of $84
Payment Options Do Not Delay Divorce
Instant Delivery - Instant Changes
100% Guarantee of Court Approval
or Your Money Back
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Disclaimer: This is a quality non-lawyer self-help divorce solution. The 3StepDivorceTM Documentation software and service is not a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. 3 Step Solutions, LLC does not practice law and does not give out legal advice. This software and service allows you to represent yourself in doing your own divorce. If you need or desire legal representation, we recommend that you hire a lawyer. Click here to learn more. There may also be other pro se divorce options available by contacting your court.
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