Filing for Divorce in Maryland

Filing for Divorce in Maryland

Getting a Divorce in Maryland? Divorce Law Cheat Sheet for the State of Maryland

1. What are the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Maryland?

If the grounds on which you are filing for divorce happened outside of Maryland, then you or your spouse must live in Maryland for at least a year before filing. Otherwise, one of you simply has to be a resident at the time that you file. You have to file in the county in which you or your spouse lives.

2. Does Maryland have a waiting period?

No, there is no formal waiting period in Maryland, as long as you meet the time requirements for the grounds on which you are filing for divorce.

3. Does the state have grounds for divorce?

There are two types of divorce in Maryland: absolute divorce and limited divorce. An absolute divorce is a typical divorce —” it ends your marriage. A limited divorce is comparable to a court-ordered separation in other states, which means” you cannot marry other people.

You can file for an absolute divorce on the following grounds:

  • Your spouse committed adultery —” had an affair.
  • Your spouse deserted you with the goal of ending your marriage; there is no reasonable hope that you will reconcile; and he or she has been gone for at least 12 months.
  • You and your spouse have lived apart for at least 12 months and there is no reasonable hope of reconciliation.
  • Your spouse has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor; has been sentenced to at least three years in prison; and has served at least 12 months of his or her sentence.
  • You and your spouse have lived apart for at least two years (the no-hope-of-reconciliation clause is not included here) your spouse has been in a mental institution for at least three years and two physicians with experience in psychiatry testify that he or she is incurably insane. To file on this ground, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least two years. your spouse has treated you or your child cruelly, and there’s no reasonable hope you’ll get back together.
  • Your spouse has been excessively vicious toward you or your child, and there’s no reasonable hope you’ll reconcile.

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4. How does Maryland determine the division of property?

You and your spouse are encouraged to come up with a settlement on your own and present it to the court. If you can’t agree, the court will divide your property for you.The court will look at your marital property. In Maryland, this is any property you or your spouse acquired during your marriage, no matter whose name is on the title. Your separate property remains your own. This includes:

  • Property that you acquired before your marriage.
  • Property that you acquired by gift or inheritance.
  • Property that is excluded from your marital property by an agreement property that you receive in exchange for your separate property.

To decide how much to award each of you from your marital property and how it will be transferred, the court will take into consideration:

  • The monetary and non-monetary contributions you and your spouse each made toward your family.
  • The value of all the property that you and your spouse each own.
  • You and your spouse’s economic circumstances at the time the award is made.
  • The circumstances that led to your divorce.
  • How long you were married.
  • You and your spouse’s ages.
  • You and your spouse’s mental and physical conditions.
  • How and when your marital property was acquired, including how much effort you and your spouse each contributed toward its acquisition.
  • Any award of alimony or use of your family home or personal property in your case.
  • Any other factor the court considers necessary.

The court seeks an arrangement that would let your child live in the environment and community that are familiar to him or her and to allow the parent who has physical custody of your child to live in your family home with your child. The court also will take into consideration:

  • Your child’s best interest.
  • Whether it’s necessary to allow one of you to have or to use certain property to live in.
  • Whether it’s necessary to allow one of you to have or to use certain property because it’s necessary for your income.
  • What hardship one of you might face if use of your family home or property is awarded to the other.

5. Does Maryland require mediation before a divorce is granted?

Mediation is not always a requirement, though the court may order it in your case if you and your spouse disagree over child custody or visitation.

6. How does the state determine child custody?

Legal custody and physical custody are two different things. Legal custody outlines how involved each parent is in the major decisions of a child’s life — ”where a child goes to school, what faith he or she is raised in and other biggies.Physical custody addresses where a child will live and with whom. Visitation is then negotiated based your physical custody arrangement.

The court may order you and your spouse to take part in an educational seminar on the effects of divorce on your children and ways to minimize disruption before it will grant you a divorce.

The court will award custody based on your child’s best interest. It is highly unlikely to award custody or visitation to a parent who has been found guilty of murdering a child’s other parent or any other family member in either spouse’s household. Any evidence of domestic abuse also will be taken into consideration when weighing custody. The court may grant your child’s grandparents visitation if they petition the court and it is in your child’s best interest.

7. How does the state calculate child support?

Maryland uses a set of state guidelines to determine support based on you and your spouse’s incomes. Your adjusted actual incomes are combined and compared with a chart to determine the basic support amount, which is then split between each of you in proportion to your incomes. The parent without physical custody pays his or her amount to the parent with physical custody.

If you or your spouse has requested alimony (also known as maintenance), then the court will determine that first. Any alimony will be considered income for the person who receives it. The amount the other spouse pays is subtracted from his or her income before child support is figured.

Work-related child care expenses and the cost of health insurance for your child are added on to the basic support amount and divided between you and your spouse in proportion to your incomes, as are extraordinary medical expenses — uninsured expenses greater than $100 for a single illness or condition including orthodontia, dental treatment, asthma treatment, physical therapy, treatment for any chronic health problem and professional counseling or psychiatric therapy for diagnosed mental disorders.

You and your spouse also may choose to share or be ordered to share expenses to allow your child to attend a private school to meet your child’s particular educational needs or to provide transportation for your child between your homes.

The court presumes that the support amount set by the guidelines is appropriate. But it may consider these factors in determining whether the amount is unfair and should be adjusted:

  • The terms of your property settlement.
  • Whether you or your spouse is responsible for supporting any other children.
  • Whether you and your spouse’s combined adjusted actual income is above or below the highest or lowest levels on the state’s chart.

Support is calculated differently if you and your spouse have a shared physical custody agreement. Shared physical custody means that your child spends more than 35 percent of the year with each of you, and that both you and your spouse contribute toward your child’s expenses in addition to child support. In this case, your support amount will be based on the actual percent of time your child spends with each of you.

8. How does the state determine and calculate alimony?

Alimony, also known as maintenance, is not a given in a court case, but either you or your spouse may request it. If you decide to seek alimony, the court will take the following into consideration when determining whether to award it and if so, how much and for how long:

  • Your ability to support yourself completely or in part.
  • How long it would take you to get the training or education necessary to find a job to support yourself.
  • Your standard of living during your marriage.
  • How long you were married.
  • You and your spouse’s monetary and non-monetary contributions toward your family’s well-being.
  • The circumstances that led to your divorce.
  • You and your spouse’s ages.
  • You and your spouse’s physical and mental conditions.
  • Your spouse’s ability to meet his or her own needs while paying alimony.
  • Any agreement between you and your spouse.
  • You and your spouse’s income, assets, property, debts, retirement benefits and eligibility for medical assistance.

The court might award alimony indefinitely, if it finds that:

because of your age, illness or disability, you can’t be expected to make much progress toward becoming self-supporting, or
even after you’ve made as much progress toward being self-supporting as possible, your standard of living still will be unfairly less than your spouse’s

Unless you and your spouse agree to something different, alimony ends upon you or your spouse’s death; upon your remarriage; or if in time it causes an unfair situation for your spouse.

9. Is there a waiting period before remarriage in Maryland?

No, you are free to remarry after the court delivers the final judgment ending your marriage.


Maryland’s state statutes are online here.

The state’s child support guidelines can be found here.

The Maryland Child Support Enforcement page can be found here.

Please note: Local and state laws change constantly, therefore this information is for educational purposes only. We do our best to keep state-specific information up-to-date, but please contact us to discuss your unique situation.

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