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Divorce Process in Maryland

Divorce Process in Maryland


Guide to the Divorce Process in Maryland


If you are divorcing in Maryland, you may be confused about the exact steps involved in the divorce process.  There is a lot of jargon associated with the divorce process in Maryland, but the steps in divorce are actually fairly simple once they're broken down a bit.  This guide can explain the process simply so that you can find out more information with your local court or a Maryland divorce lawyer.


Complaint and Response


The divorce process in Maryland begins when one spouse files a divorce complaint.  The spouse filing the complaint is called the “plaintiff.”  The complaint will contain grounds for divorce—most cases today use no-fault grounds—and the terms that the plaintiff is seeking.  This process of listing terms is called seeking relief.


These terms will always include the divorce itself (which, in almost all cases, is what's called an “absolute divorce”) and an equitable division of marital property.  If you have minor children, child custody or visitation terms may also be demanded in the complaint.


The complaint will be served to the other spouse (the “defendant”).  The defendant spouse then will have to file a response that makes any counterclaims or requests any different relief.




The discovery process is one of mutual investigation by spouses or their attorneys.  This can be the longest part of the divorce process in Maryland for spouses with complicated finances.  Discovery is also a time when judges may recommend that you enter into negotiation with your spouse about any issues you have not yet been able to agree on.


You may also have to have a guardian ad litem appointed for your children if the court rules it is in their best interest.  Guardians ad litem act as a representative for your child during a divorce, and will be important in negotiating custody and visitation arrangements.


Mediation and Settlement


Some judges will require you to attend mediation to attempt to negotiate a divorce settlement.  A settlement can be both cheaper and emotionally easier than a long, drawn-out trial, so trying to use this shortcut in the divorce process in Maryland may make it easier for you to move on after a divorce.


Divorce settlements can only be complete if you and your spouse can agree on everything, including child custody and visitation, the division of your property, and spousal support (also called alimony).  A trained mediator can help you to come to an agreement that both spouses find fair.




Trials can be expensive and difficult for both spouses and their children.  This part of the divorce process brings both spouses and their lawyers to a courtroom to explain their side and the remaining disagreements between the spouses.  Evidence will be brought in, and expert witnesses may be used to bolster the cases of each party.


After the arguments in favor of both sides have been heard, the judge will issue a final judgment about the divorce.  Your divorce is not final until the judgment has been entered or a settlement has been approved by the court.