Order of Default for a Divorce in Maryland

By Erika Johansen

If you file a complaint for divorce, your spouse has the right to respond to the complaint. But what if he's missing or hiding from your divorce action? Depending on the circumstances, after a period between 30 and 90 days and a good-faith search for your spouse, you can ask the court for an Order of Default, which will move the divorce process forward without your spouse's input.

Starting the Process

The first step in the Maryland divorce process is to file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce. You may attach requests for alimony and child support. Once you file the Complaint and pay the filing fee, the court will return a Writ of Summons which you must serve on your spouse. You can't serve the summons personally; instead, you must use a third-party process server over the age of 18. Once she serves your spouse, you must submit an Affidavit of Service to the court which asserts that your spouse was served.

Missing Spouse

Once your spouse has been served, she can file an answer which admits or denies the claims in the complaint. If she lives in Maryland, she has 30 days to answer the complaint. If she's out of state, she has 60 days. If she's out of the country, she has 90 days. If your spouse has been served and fails to respond in this time period, you may go ahead and request a default judgment of divorce from the court. But if you were unable to find your spouse to serve her with the complaint, you must make a diligent search to find her before you can request a default judgment. A diligent search may include serving their summons again via certified mail; contacting your spouse's relatives; asking the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration for a current address; and even publishing a notice in Maryland newspapers. The court may require proof that you took reasonable steps to search for your spouse.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Order of Default

If she fails to respond during the required period, you can then file a Request for Order of Default with the court. This request must be accompanied by an affidavit that your spouse is not in military service (military divorce is a different process). If you have complied with all requirements, the court will grant you an Order of Default. This Order allows you to File a Request for Hearing or Proceeding, which asks the court to set a date for the divorce hearing.


If you have a valid Order of Default, the hearing can take place even if there's still no sign of your spouse. You must bring evidence of any assertions made in your Complaint for Absolute Divorce, as well as a witness who will corroborate your claims. You must also bring a copy of your marriage certificate. After hearing your claims, the court will issue its findings and recommendations. These recommendations are then incorporated into the Divorce Decree, which is mailed to both you and your spouse within several weeks.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Serve Divorce Papers Under Massachusetts State Law



Related articles

How Long Is the Divorce Process in Alabama?

Some states are wary of letting couples divorce too easily or too quickly, and Alabama is one of them. The state has built provisions into its legislation to slow the process down a little. In reality, the waiting period is so short that it often has little or no effect, however. How long a divorce takes really depends on whether you and your spouse are fighting over myriad issues or can reach an amicable settlement.

Can You Refuse to Give Your Spouse a Divorce in Georgia?

Your spouse may file for divorce, believing the marriage is over, but even if you aren’t ready to divorce just yet, it’s really not possible to refuse to divorce your spouse in any state, including Georgia. You can slow down the divorce process, but eventually the divorce will go through, even if your spouse has to refile the case to make it happen.

How to Withdraw a Divorce Complaint in New Jersey

Not everyone is unequivocally sure they want to end their marriage. They may file a divorce complaint in the heat of anger, only to calm down a little later. They may have thought about divorce for some time, only to realize that it may be possible to reconcile. If this happens to you and you change your mind after filing for divorce, and if you happen to live in New Jersey, withdrawing your complaint is a relatively simple process.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Do You Have to Go to Court When Divorce Is Final in Tennessee?

If your divorce is contested, you can count on appearing in court, maybe even more than once, for both temporary ...

What Is a Default Divorce in Tennessee?

If your spouse fails completely to respond to the divorce proceedings, Tennessee courts may award you a divorce by ...

Alabama Divorce Via Default

Whether you cannot track down your spouse or he is completely unresponsive to your divorce complaint, you may still ask ...

What if My Wife Defaults in a Divorce in California?

It takes two to tango, but only one to divorce in California. A spouse properly served with divorce papers cannot ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED