TYPES OF DIVORCE
A divorce may be of the following types
- Uncontested Divorce
- Uncontested divorce is one in which the parties have mutually agreed for the divorce.
- For the purpose of uncontested divorce
- The husband and wife must have lived separately for one year or more.
- The husband and wife must have a written Separation Agreement so as to make it adequate and sufficient provisions in writing for the custody and support of the minor children of the marriage and makes a fair and equitable division of the property.
- The husband and wife also have to show that the differences have arisen which will prevent the husband and wife from living together, there is no hope of reconciliation and intend to end the marriage.
- A contested divorce is a case in which the parties cannot mutually agree on one or more points (property division, alimony, custody, child support, or attorney's fees).
In a divorce petition those points are raised for the purpose of settlement through court.
The grounds for an "absolute" or final divorce in Maryland are as follows:
- One Year's Mutual and Voluntary Separation: Living separate and apart for one year without interruption.
- Two Year's Involuntary Separation: Living separately and apart for two years without interruption.
- Desertion: For one full year without legal cause, actual or constructive.
- Conviction of a Felony or Misdemeanor. Requires incarceration for one year under a sentence of three or more years.
Insanity. Confined to a mental institution for at least three years.
There are a few legal requirements which must be met to file for a divorce in most states:
- Residency: The spouse filing for the divorce must have resided in the state for certain time (oftentimes at least 6 months prior to filing the action, and at least 3 months in the county where the action will be filed).
- Waiting Period: There is a waiting period that marks the date the divorce becomes final and the parties are free to remarry. This waiting period for uncontested divorces usually take two to three months, after filing and or contested divorces can take up to eighteen months.
Legal Grounds: There must be some legal grounds for getting a divorce
- An action for divorce must be filed in the proper court.
The proper court may be the county where either the wife or husband has resided for at least 3 months prior to filing for divorce.
THE DIVORCE PROCESS
- A divorce starts with a divorce petition, which is written by one spouse (the petitioner) and served on the other spouse known as the "respondent".
- The petition shall contain the following:
- information regarding the marriage
- names of the husband and wife,
- names of any children,
- facts regarding whether there is any separate property or community property, child custody, child support, spousal support and other information.
- The petition must be served on the other spouse, which means presenting him or her with the divorce papers and giving notice that the papers have been filed.
- The defendant then has the opportunity to file a response to the petition known as an Answer.
- If the defendant also wants to complain that the plaintiff was at fault he or she may do so by filing a Counter-complaint.
- The filing of counter complaint is usually followed by Discovery, which may include
- written questions, known as Interrogatories,
- Requests for Admissions or Requests for Production of Documents, and
- face-to-face questioning before a court reporter, which is called a Deposition.
- If both spouses have agreed to the divorce, then the other spouse only needs to sign an acknowledgement of the receipt of service.
If the other spouse refuses to sign the acknowledgement or is difficult to locate, then a professional process server should be hired to personally hand them the papers.
- The legal separation in Maryland is called a "Limited Divorce".
- The grounds for a limited divorce are different than the grounds required for an absolute divorce, and they are as follows:
- Voluntary Separation without reasonable expectation of reconciliation
- Excessively Vicious Conduct
However, the Legal separation is not an absolute divorce. One has to apply for a decree for divorce after the legal separation.
ANNULMENTS OF MARRIAGE
- Annulments are granted by the court only in certain rare cases.
- The legal effect is to void a marriage from the very beginning.
If there is no appeal, your divorce will be final thirty days after the judge signs the final decree.