The most difficult aspect of filing for divorce in Maryland is getting your grounds and residency requirements straight. The laws regarding both overlap a bit. Once you determine them, however, the rest of the filing process is relatively straightforward.
Determine if you’ve lived in Maryland long enough to file for divorce. If you chose a fault ground and it occurred in the state, you can file immediately. If it occurred elsewhere, you must live in Maryland for a year before you can file. The exception is the insanity ground. If you're alleging that your spouse is insane, you must have lived in Maryland for two years before you can file.
Decide on your ground. Maryland has two no-fault grounds, both for separation. If you and your spouse reach a joint decision to part ways, you must remain separated for one year. You can remain in the same home together, as long as you terminate your marital relationship. If your decision is not mutual, your separation must be at least two years in duration. Fault grounds include desertion for one year or more, cruelty, adultery, conviction of a crime or insanity on the part of your spouse.
Download and complete Form CCDR20, a complaint for absolute divorce, from Maryland’s judicial website. The complaint asks for your grounds, the details of your residency, information regarding your children if you have any, and for information regarding any other family court litigation in which you and your spouse have been involved. At the end of the form, note to the court on what issues you want a ruling, such as custody, child support and property division.
Download Form DCIR from the state’s judicial website and complete it. This is an information sheet; it recaps and condenses the information you’ve already included in your complaint.
Download and complete Form DR30 if you are asking the court to award you child support. If you requested alimony in your complaint, or both alimony and child support, use Form DR31 instead. Both are financial statements asking for details regarding your assets, budget, income and debts.
File your paperwork with the court in the county where you live or where your spouse lives. Tell the court clerk if you want the county sheriff to serve your complaint on your spouse. The clerk will send a summons and a copy of your complaint to the sheriff and arrange for service on your behalf. Otherwise, the clerk will give you the summons.
Arrange to have your spouse served with the summons and a copy of your complaint if don’t want the sheriff to do it. Your other options include certified mail, a private process server or an adult over the age of 18 who has no interest in your case.
Download an affidavit of service from the state’s website. Use Form CCDR55 if someone has hand-delivered your complaint to your spouse, and have that individual sign it. Use Form CDR56 if you sent your complaint by certified mail. File the appropriate form with the court to prove that you’ve achieved service.
Tips & Warnings
References & Resources
- The Law Offices of David L. Ruben: How to File a Divorce?
- Belli, Weil & Grozbean: The Procedures for a Divorce Case in Maryland
- Divorcenet.com: Maryland Divorce FAQs
- Montgomery County Circuit Court: Family Department
- Maryland Judiciary: Domestic Relations Forms
- Belli, Weil & Grozbean: Maryland Residency Requirements for Divorce
- DivorceLawInfo.com: Which Maryland Domestic Relations Pro Se Forms Do You Need?
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