Divorce in Maryland: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated April 5, 2024by Charlie Barton

Explore our comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know, from the reasons and types of divorce to the steps, costs, asset division, spousal support, and how it impacts your children.

Summary

  • Maryland is both a “fault-based” and “no-fault” divorce state.

  • You and your spouse have lived separate and apart, without interruption, for at least six months before filing a complaint for absolute divorce.

  • In Maryland, marital property generally must be divided equitably between the spouses in a divorce.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

What are the grounds for divorce in Maryland?

In Maryland, when deciding to end your marriage, you file for an absolute divorce. This is what other states commonly refer to as divorce or dissolution of marriage.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.

Maryland is both a “fault-based” and “no-fault” divorce state.

1. Fault-based divorce grounds in Maryland

The grounds for a fault divorce include the following:

  • One-year separation

  • Adultery

  • Desertion

  • Cruel treatment towards a spouse or child

  • Excessively vicious conduct towards a spouse or child

  • Insanity

  • Incarceration

2. No-fault divorce grounds in Maryland

The no-fault grounds allow for divorce when the marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no hope of reconciliation. This is by mutual consent.

What is the cost of divorce in Maryland?

The costs of obtaining a divorce in Maryland can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the case.

There are a number of costs you need to consider when filing and going through a divorce in Maryland:

  • Filling fee: As outlined on the court's website, the filing fee for a complaint for divorce without an attorney is $165, and with an attorney, it is $185.

  • Serving paperwork on the defendant: You will need to pay a fee to have the divorce paperwork served to your spouse.

  • Attorney fees: If the divorce is contested, you will have to pay costs associated with litigation. This includes attorney fees, which average $250-$350 per hour in Maryland, according to a survey by Martindale-Nolo Research.

  • Mediation: If you choose to go down this route, you will have to pay for each mediation session, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

Overall, divorce in Maryland can amount to several thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the divorce case.

However, for divorces that are uncontested and the parties agree on issues like property division, alimony, and child custody, the costs are significantly lower, typically totaling $200-$300.

No attorneys or mediation are needed since both spouses agree to the divorce terms, keeping the overall cost much lower compared to contested cases, based on estimates from Maryland divorce lawyers.

It's worth speaking to a qualified financial advisor to provide additional guidance throughout the process, match with an advisor here.

How to file for divorce in Maryland?

Filing for divorce in Maryland involves several steps as outlined in the state's family law statutes:

  1. Meet requirements: You and your spouse have lived separate and apart, without interruption, for at least six months before filing a complaint for absolute divorce.

  2. File a complaint for divorce: State the grounds for divorce in a complaint for divorce filed with the circuit court in the county where either party lives.

  3. File accompanying documents: Include accompanying documents, including a Civil Domestic Case Information Report.

  4. Serve the defendant: Serve the defendant copies of the complaint and documents either personally or by certified mail.

  5. Wait for the defendant's response: The defendant has 60 days to respond after being served.

  6. Request a default judgment: If the defendant does not respond within 60 days, the plaintiff can request a default judgment for divorce from the court.

  7. Attend a court hearing: The court will schedule a hearing, and if the grounds for divorce are proven, the court will grant the divorce decree.

  8. Resolve any additional financial issues: Certain financial issues, such as alimony, property division, etc., may require additional litigation before the divorce is finalized.

Remember, divorce procedures can vary based on individual circumstances and local court rules.

How do you split assets in Maryland?

In Maryland, marital property generally must be divided equitably between the spouses in a divorce.

This does not necessarily mean an equal 50/50 split.

For example, if one spouse made significantly higher contributions to acquiring an asset, they may get a larger share. The spouses can also come to a mutual agreement on dividing their property through a separation agreement.

Marital property includes:

  • Houses/real estate purchased during the marriage

  • Vehicles purchased during the marriage

  • Bank accounts opened during the marriage

  • Investments and retirement accounts acquired during marriage

  • Businesses started during the marriage

  • Personal property like jewelry, furniture, artwork, etc.

The court will consider factors like each spouse's contributions during the marriage, the value of property, and how long the property was acquired when determining an equitable distribution. The factors the court will consider include:

  • Each spouse's monetary and non-monetary contributions

  • The value of all marital property

  • Economic circumstances of each spouse

  • How and when assets were acquired during marriage

  • Tax consequences

How does alimony work in Maryland?

Alimony may be awarded in a divorce proceeding in order to provide financial support for a dependent spouse.

The types of alimony in Maryland include:

  • Rehabilitative alimony: Temporary payments to help spouses become self-supporting by developing skills or education.

  • Indefinite alimony: Continuous payments with no fixed termination date.

  • Fixed-term alimony: Alimony paid for a set period of time.

  • Reimbursement alimony: Alimony is used to compensate spouses who supported each other through school.

The court will determine the amount and duration of alimony based on factors like:

  • Financial needs and resources of each party

  • Time needed for the dependent spouse to gain skills for employment

  • Standard of living during marriage

  • Duration of marriage

  • Age and health of the spouses

  • Contributions to family well-being

Either spouse may request alimony during the divorce process.

Alimony usually ends when the dependent spouse remarries, or either spouse passes away.

Overall, Maryland courts can award different types of alimony on a case-by-case basis, considering each spouse's needs and resources.

What happens to children during a divorce in Maryland?

Overall, Maryland courts aim to put children's welfare first when determining custody in a divorce.

The court looks at factors like the fitness of parents, their relationship with the child, their potential for maintaining natural family relations, material opportunities affecting the child, and the child's preference if the child is old enough.

In many Maryland divorces, parents have joint legal custody while one parent has primary physical custody. This means both parents will make decisions about the child's welfare, but the child will live primarily with one parent.

The court also determines a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent.

How do you protect your finances when going through a divorce in Maryland?

Going through a divorce can be stressful and challenging, especially when it comes to finances. You may have many questions and concerns about how to protect your assets, manage your debts, and plan for your future.

Here are some ways you can protect your money when going through a divorce:

  • Organize your finances: Before filing for divorce, gather all relevant financial information and documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and retirement accounts. Make a list of all assets and liabilities, both marital and non-marital. This will help you and your spouse negotiate a fair distribution of property and debts.

  • Consider mediation: Mediation is a process where you and your spouse work with a neutral third party to resolve issues related to your divorce, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Mediation can be less time-consuming, less expensive, and less stressful than going to court. It can also help you maintain a cooperative relationship with your spouse after the divorce.

  • Think about Social Security: If you have been married for at least 10 years, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. This can provide valuable income during retirement, especially if your ex-spouse earned more than you. However, certain criteria must be met to qualify for this benefit.

  • Seek professional help: Divorce can significantly impact your financial situation. Consider consulting with a financial advisor specializing in divorce to help you navigate these changes and plan for your future.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

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Writer

Charlie Barton

Charlie Barton is a writer at Unbiased. He has been writing about personal finance and investing since 2017, with extensive knowledge of platforms and products. Charlie has a first-class degree from the London School of Economics.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.