Divorce is a life-changing event that can be emotionally draining, time-consuming, and expensive. One of the initial questions that individuals going through a divorce often have is how long it will take to finalize. In Maryland, the timeline for a divorce depends on various factors such as the grounds for divorce, contested or uncontested divorce, legal representation, court schedules, and more.
The duration of a divorce process can vary significantly from case to case, which makes it hard to predict a specific timeframe. That being said, understanding the different stages involved in a divorce proceeding can help you prepare yourself mentally and financially for what lies ahead. This may include filing for divorce, serving notice to your spouse, attending hearings, negotiating settlement agreements, and obtaining a final divorce decree from the court.
If you are thinking about getting divorced or already in the middle of one, it’s essential to understand the ins and outs of Maryland divorce laws to make informed decisions. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the topic of how long does a divorce take in Maryland and explore some strategies that may expedite or delay the process to suit your needs.
“Divorce is not the end of the world; it’s the beginning of a new life.” -Unknown
Understanding the Divorce Process in Maryland
If you are considering filing for divorce in Maryland, it is important to understand how the process works. Each state has its own specific laws and regulations regarding divorce, including how long the process can take.
Grounds for Divorce in Maryland
Maryland allows both fault-based and no-fault divorces. A no-fault divorce is based on “irreconcilable differences” or a mutual agreement between spouses that the marriage cannot be salvaged. There are also several grounds for fault-based divorce in Maryland, including adultery, desertion, cruelty, and excessively vicious conduct. If one spouse alleges fault-based grounds for divorce, they must provide evidence to support their claim.
Contested and Uncontested Divorce
Divorces in Maryland may be either contested or uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on all significant issues related to the end of their marriage, including child custody, alimony, and property division. The couple submits a settlement agreement to the court for approval, and if the court finds the agreement fair and reasonable, the divorce will be granted without any court hearings or trials. An uncontested divorce in Maryland typically takes about 45 days from start to finish.
In a contested divorce, however, the spouses are not able to agree on all the relevant issues relating to the end of their marriage. This means that there must be a court hearing or trial where the judge makes decisions about these issues. Contested divorces can take many months, sometimes even years, before everything is resolved and a final judgment is entered.
Divorce Mediation in Maryland
For couples who wish to avoid a lengthy court battle, divorce mediation may be an option. In mediation, a neutral third party meets with both spouses to help them communicate effectively and work through their differences. The mediator does not make decisions or offer legal advice but simply assists the couple in reaching an agreement that is satisfactory to both parties.
Mediation can be particularly effective for couples who have children, as it allows them to reach agreements about custody, visitation, and support without involving the court. Mediation may also be less expensive than hiring attorneys and going through a lengthy trial process.
Property Division in Maryland Divorce
In a divorce, marital property must be divided fairly between the spouses. This includes all assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of which spouse earned them. Maryland follows an “equitable distribution” standard for dividing marital property, meaning that assets are divided fairly but not necessarily equally.
Factors considered when determining property division include each spouse’s contribution to the marriage (both financial and non-financial), the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, and each spouse’s earning potential. These factors can sometimes lead to a need for appraisals and expert testimony, which can further prolong the duration of the divorce process.
“A long-term marriage dissolving in Maryland will usually take 6 months or more depending on whether there exist technicalities like resolving property and support issues.” -Houlon Berman Law Firm
The length of time it takes to get a divorce in Maryland depends on many factors, including whether it is contested or uncontested, how much property needs to be divided, and whether child custody/support issues are involved. An experienced divorce lawyer can help guide you through the process and ensure that your interests and rights are protected throughout the proceedings.
Factors That Affect the Timeline of a Divorce in Maryland
Complexity of the Case
The complexity of the case is one of the most significant factors that can affect the timeline of a divorce. If the divorce involves many disputes or issues, then it will take more time to resolve. The more complex cases often require additional negotiations and court appearances.
According to The Law Offices of David Bach Esq., two main things can make a divorce complicated:
- High net worth – if there are multiple businesses, properties, investments, and other high-value assets involved, then it can significantly complicate the divorce process.
- Children – if the couple has children, custody and support arrangements must be made alongside the division of property and debts. The parents may also disagree on how decisions such as schooling, medical care, and religious upbringing should be made.
The availability of the court plays a vital role in determining how long a divorce will take. In Maryland, family courts handle divorce cases. These courts have specific days for scheduling hearings, trials, and other proceedings. If the schedules of both the attorneys and the court do not align, it will delay the processing of the divorce papers.
“Scheduling conflicts are one of the most common causes of delays in divorces,” says Allison Barnes Salter, Esq., author of “The Essential Guide to Maryland Divorce.”
In some cases, a hearing might get postponed due to various reasons like inclement weather, natural disasters, or emergency situations.
Agreement Between Parties
If both parties come to an equal agreement, divorce proceedings will be much quicker. If one spouse contests the divorce or refuses to cooperate in mediation, it could take a lot longer.
“Spouses can come to agreements on some aspects of their marriage without involving the court,” says Monica Lanzetta, Esq., attorney at Lanzetta & Associates. These include:
- The division of property and assets
- Custody and support arrangements for children
- The amount and duration of alimony payments (if any)
To achieve this, both spouses need to make the necessary disclosures and openly discuss each point to ensure they agree with the proposed terms. However, if either party does not want to negotiate, the process becomes more challenging, which takes time and resources.
The availability of the attorneys is another significant factor that can contribute to the timeline of a divorce. Most attorneys work with multiple clients simultaneously, especially those who are reputable and experienced. Therefore, conflicting schedules and emergencies can frequently arise that will require full attention from the lawyer.
According to Jill A. Snyder, Esq., principal partner of Snyder & Sarno LLC, “Contested divorces with several contentious issues result in litigation, which requires more time-consuming preparation by lawyers, increased court involvement with judges and masters, whose limited schedules affect case resolution times.”
This emphasizes that getting legal representation that is readily available is essential. It is also important to note that hiring a knowledgeable family law attorney who specializes in Maryland’s family law statutes and regulations can expedite your divorce process.
“Divorce should never be confused as an easy way out. There’s nothing easy about experiencing feelings of sadness and loss.” -Gary Chapman
A divorce is a complicated legal procedure that can be overwhelming emotionally and financially. The average time it takes to complete the process in Maryland depends on unique personal, marital, and financial circumstances. While some divorces may only take weeks or months, others may drag on for years.
No matter what your situation is, working with a knowledgeable attorney can help ensure that the necessary paperwork is filed correctly and on time. They can also provide guidance and support so you can focus on moving forward with your life.
The Average Duration of a Divorce in Maryland
If you are planning to file for divorce in Maryland, one of your biggest concerns may be how long the process will take. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to give a definitive answer as every case is unique and there are many factors that can affect the duration of a divorce.
There are certain aspects of the divorce process in Maryland that tend to have a significant impact on its length. In this article, we will discuss some of these factors and provide an estimated timeline for an average divorce in Maryland.
Length of Separation
In Maryland, you must be separated from your spouse for at least 12 months before you are eligible to file for a no-fault divorce. If you wish to file for a fault-based divorce (e.g., based on adultery or cruelty), there is no required separation period.
This means that the length of your separation period can greatly affect the duration of your divorce. If you meet the requirements for a no-fault divorce but have only been separated for a few months, you will need to wait until the 12-month mark to file.
Once the separation period is over, the actual filing of the divorce paperwork and all related court proceedings can take anywhere from several months to over a year depending on various other factors.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
A contested divorce is one in which you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on important issues such as child custody, division of assets, and spousal support. In contrast, an uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree on all major decisions, making the divorce process quicker and less expensive.
If you and your spouse opt for a contested divorce, expect the process to take much longer than an uncontested one. A contested divorce in Maryland can take anywhere from several months to over a year because it typically involves negotiations and/or court hearings.
On the other hand, if you and your spouse are able to agree on all aspects of the divorce through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or collaborative law, you may be able to finalize your divorce in as little as a few months.
Unfortunately, delays in the court system are not uncommon when it comes to divorces. The amount of time it takes for your case to get a hearing date largely depends on how busy the court is at the time. You may also experience delays due to issues with paperwork or scheduling conflicts.
To minimize the risk of court-related delays, it’s important to ensure that all documents are properly filed and served in a timely manner. It may be helpful to consult with an experienced divorce attorney who can help guide you through the process and ensure that everything is done correctly and efficiently.
Appeals and Modifications
After your divorce is finalized, there may still be additional steps you need to take before considering the matter completely closed. For instance, either party may choose to file an appeal if they disagree with certain decisions made by the court.
If no appeals are filed and both parties continue to abide by the terms of the divorce decree, then the divorce should be considered final. However, if circumstances change (such as one party experiencing a significant increase or decrease in income), you may need to file for a post-judgment modification. This can extend the duration of your divorce proceedings even further.
“Divorce is a journey. It is a painful process but can lead to healing and growth. If handled properly, it can set the stage for a brighter future.” -Doreen Yaffa, Divorce Attorney
The duration of a divorce in Maryland can vary significantly depending on a number of factors, such as separation period, whether it is contested or uncontested, court delays, and appeals/modifications. While it’s helpful to have a general idea of how long the process might take, keep in mind that every case is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Ways to Speed Up the Divorce Process in Maryland
If you are going through a divorce in Maryland, you may be wondering how long the process will take. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce in Maryland depends on several factors such as whether or not both parties can agree on key issues and if you choose the right attorney.
Agreeing on Key Issues
One way to speed up the divorce process in Maryland is to try to reach an agreement with your spouse about important issues such as property division, child custody, and support payments. In Maryland, when both parties come to an agreement before filing for a divorce, they can file for an “uncontested” divorce which typically speeds up the court proceedings.
If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement regarding these key issues, then you will need to seek help from attorneys, mediators, or negotiators so that the two of you can work together to try to find a resolution. It’s also crucial that you fully understand the legal implications of any agreement made during the divorce settlement negotiation process.
Choosing the Right Attorney
Hiring the right attorney is crucial to speeding up the divorce process in Maryland. Make sure to conduct thorough research and ask for referrals to find an experienced lawyer who understands the laws and regulations in Maryland and has handled similar cases to yours.
Your chosen attorney should have excellent communication skills and be someone that you feel comfortable working with throughout the divorce process. Ensure that your attorney supports your goals for the divorce and works with you to achieve them
- Litigation: If your divorce case goes to trial, then the judge will make decisions based on the evidence and arguments presented by both parties. Typically, litigation is a much longer process than alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or negotiation.
- Mediation: When you opt for mediation to resolve your divorce case, a third-party mediator facilitates an agreement between you and your spouse so that you can come to a mutually acceptable outcome. Mediation typically takes less time and money compared to other methods of dispute resolution.
If you’re looking to speed up the divorce process in Maryland, consider opting for arbitration or mediation instead of going to trial. This helps to avoid a lengthy court battle, which can drag out the proceedings.
“During a divorce settlement negotiation, it’s crucial to think about how some of these decisions will affect your taxes.”- David Greenberg
In addition, make sure that all divorce-related documents are prepared accurately and submitted promptly to the court. Any errors in legal documents can prolong the legal process in Maryland.
To wrap up, before filing for divorce in Maryland, try to reach an agreement with your spouse regarding key issues so that you can file for an uncontested divorce. It’s also important to pick the right attorney who can help guide you through the steps involved and advocate for your best interests throughout the process. Once you have hired an attorney, work with them to determine the most suitable form of dispute resolution. Lastly, ensure that all paperwork relating to the case is completed and filed correctly and without delay.
What to Expect During the Divorce Proceedings in Maryland
The process of getting a divorce is never easy, but it can be especially complicated if you live in Maryland. So how long does a divorce take in Maryland? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer as every case is unique.
Filing for Divorce
In order to file for divorce in Maryland, either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least one year prior to filing. The first step is to file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce with the Circuit Court in the county where you reside. You will need to pay a filing fee unless you qualify for a waiver. Once your complaint has been filed and served on your spouse, they will have 30 days to respond.
If your spouse agrees to the terms of the divorce (including property division, child custody, and support), the process may be relatively simple and quick. This type of uncontested divorce typically takes a minimum of two months from the date of filing to finalize.
If your case is more complex or contested, it could take significantly longer. You may be required to attend multiple hearings, negotiations, or even mediation sessions before a settlement is reached. In these cases, it could take up to several years to finalize your divorce.
An essential part of most divorce proceedings is the discovery process, during which both parties exchange information about their finances, assets, debts, and other relevant information related to the case. This helps ensure that all marital assets are accounted for and divided equitably between the spouses.
Unfortunately, this process can also add significant time and expense to your divorce. Your attorney will likely request documents such as tax returns, bank statements, investment account statements, and retirement account statements from your spouse’s attorney. You may also need to attend depositions or submit interrogatories (written questions) to your spouse for clarification on specific issues.
In some cases, discovery can take several months or even years to complete.
“The length of time it takes for a Maryland divorce to be finalized depends largely on how the couple approaches their separation and what issues arise between them.” -Towson Divorce Attorney, Roland M. Schrebler
There is no fixed timeline for completing a divorce in Maryland. It will depend on the unique circumstances of your case, including whether it is contested or uncontested, as well as any relevant issues like child custody, alimony, or property division.
If you are considering getting a divorce in Maryland, it is crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected at every step of the way.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does an uncontested divorce take in Maryland?
An uncontested divorce in Maryland typically takes 30-90 days to finalize. This is because there are no disputes to be resolved, and both parties have agreed on all terms of the divorce. The process can be expedited if all necessary documents are filed correctly and in a timely manner.
What factors can impact the length of a divorce proceeding in Maryland?
Several factors can impact the length of a divorce proceeding in Maryland, including the complexity of the case, the number of assets involved, the level of disagreement between the parties, and the court’s schedule. Additionally, if children are involved, custody and support issues can prolong the process.
How long does a contested divorce take in Maryland?
A contested divorce in Maryland can take several months to several years to finalize, depending on the complexity of the case and the level of disagreement between the parties. The court’s schedule can also impact the length of the process, as can the number of assets and children involved.
What steps can be taken to speed up the divorce process in Maryland?
Several steps can be taken to speed up the divorce process in Maryland, such as working with a mediator to resolve disputes, being organized and prepared with all necessary documents, and being cooperative with the other party. It is also important to work with an experienced attorney who can navigate the legal system efficiently.
Is there a waiting period for divorce in Maryland?
Yes, there is a waiting period for divorce in Maryland. Couples must be separated for at least 12 months before filing for a no-fault divorce. However, fault-based divorces, such as those based on adultery or cruelty, do not have a waiting period.
What role do lawyers play in the length of a divorce in Maryland?
Lawyers can play a significant role in the length of a divorce in Maryland. An experienced attorney can help parties navigate the legal system efficiently, negotiate favorable terms, and resolve disputes quickly. However, if one or both parties are uncooperative, or if there are complex issues involved, the process can still be lengthy despite the best efforts of the attorneys involved.