When it appears that your marriage is over, it can still be overwhelming to actually admit that you want a divorce. You may keep going over the options in your head but simply not know where to turn. These simple tips about divorce in Maryland can help you focus on what needs to be done and may help you make a better-informed decision about ending your marriage.
Understand the types of divorce
There are three types of divorce in Maryland: absolute, limited and mutual consent divorce. In an absolute divorce, you and your spouse no longer live together, you have separate finances and you are free to date. You must be separated for one year before filing for absolute divorce. Limited divorce, however, does not require you to wait the full year to file. It is often used in cases of infidelity or when one spouse wants out of the marriage quickly. It amounts to legal separation. Limited divorce will set up visitation for the children, and your spouse could be required to continue paying certain bills. In a mutual consent divorce, you must have a signed, written settlement agreement. The agreement must include alimony and property division details. Neither of you can contest the divorce, and you must both appear at the hearing. There is no waiting period for a mutual consent divorce. If you have children, you must have worked out custody, visitation and support issues.
Do I have grounds for a divorce?
If any of the following apply to you, it is possible you have grounds for a divorce:
- Adultery – although very difficult to prove, the one-year waiting period is waived in cases of adultery.
- Constructive desertion – if you are forced to leave the marital home due to abuse, threats or an action that forces you to leave, that is considered constructive desertion. The one-year waiting period applies.
- Desertion – if your spouse leaves the home and never returns, you may claim desertion as grounds for a divorce, but you will have to adhere to the one-year waiting period.
- Imprisonment – if your spouse is incarcerated for at least 12 months of a minimum three-year sentence, you may use that as grounds.
- Insanity – this is also very difficult to prove since your spouse must be incurably and permanently insane, confined to an institution for at least three years and have two or more psychiatrists confirm their insanity. You must also wait two years after their confinement to file.
- One-year separation – once you have been separated for one year and there is no hope of reconciliation, you may file for an absolute divorce. However, if you and your spouse reconcile even for just one night during that year, the clock restarts.
Know what assets and liabilities you have
Regardless of the type of divorce or grounds you will use, it is important to know what assets and liabilities exist in your marriage. If your spouse has always handled the finances, take the time to learn more about them before you file. Gather documents like the deed to your home, bank statements, mortgage documents, insurance policies, tax returns and anything that may indicate your financial status. Take photographs of property that has value. Assets and liabilities in a divorce are some of the trickiest aspects to handle, and it is important to consult with an attorney to determine how equitable distribution may impact you.
Before filing for divorce, talking to an attorney is a wise course. It is the best way to learn what steps you must take to protect your rights when you decide to end your marriage.