Annapolis Divorce Attorneys Guide Clients Through Contested and Uncontested Marriage Dissolutions

Trustworthy Maryland divorce attorneys simplify processes for clients

For some couples, the end of a marriage is a straightforward process. However, with all the complex, high-stakes decisions that need to be made, it is entirely possible that the divorcing couple will not see eye to eye on the details of their separation and divorce. In Maryland, as in most states, there are two types of divorce proceedings: contested divorces or uncontested ones. Both types present their own challenges and requirements. It is important to understand the law and documentation required for either a contested or uncontested divorce. An experienced Annapolis divorce lawyer will be able to walk you through the process.

What does uncontested divorce mean?

The term “uncontested divorce” simply indicates that both spouses have initially agreed to become divorced, and that they also agree on the terms of the divorce. Once you and your spouse have a plan for how your lives will be divided, and you both agree to adhere to this plan in its entirety, you can present this information to a judge, who is likely to accept it as-is, provided there is nothing illegal about the agreement.

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What to expect at a typical divorce mediation session

Some clients realize that they really do agree on more than they thought they would, whereas others have more disagreements with their spouses than they expected. For these clients, mediation could be the key to a successful resolution. To learn more about that process, please watch the following video:

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    What are the laws regarding uncontested divorce in Maryland?

    Generally speaking, a couple who wishes to file for an uncontested divorce will file under “no-fault” grounds. If the couple has children, they must legally separate for 12 full months. Maryland law requires that the individuals not spend a single night under the same roof together during that time period. After the 12-month period, you and your spouse will be required to testify in court that you have been separated the entire time.

    If, however, you do not have children, you may wish to divorce under the ground of “mutual consent,” in which case the waiting period may be waived.

    Are there any benefits to contesting a divorce?

    One unexpected benefit of contested divorces, however, is that a complete financial accounting, called financial discovery, takes place. At this time, both spouses are required to reveal a complete and full list of their assets, as well as provide other financial documents and information. This practice serves to guard against either or both spouses hiding assets. Contested divorces are quite common among high-earning people with significant assets, or those with complicated family situations.

    To avoid the lengthy and costly process of taking your divorce to trial, you can opt to settle. During the many and varied pre-trial conferences, filings, and discovering of materials, there is ample time to settle with your spouse if you finally agree —or, at least, compromise—on the terms of your divorce at any time. When this settlement happens, it is mutually binding, and neither spouse will have the power to appeal. If you can agree or compromise on certain issues, but not on others, it is possible to request a separate hearing to address or resolve only the issues in question.

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    What does a contested divorce in Maryland entail?

    In Maryland, a contested divorce means that one of the spouses, or parties, is not in agreement with the decision to divorce and/or the parties could not arrive at terms that felt fair and satisfactory.

    Some of the typical issues spouses disagree on during divorce proceedings include:

    Spouses may have different ideas of how to address some or all of these and other issues, and there are times when it is not possible to arrive at a compromise that is workable for both parties. At this time, each spouse and his or her counsel will appear in court and have a family law judge settle their dispute. Contested divorces can be much more expensive than the drafting of a separation agreement and/or a mediation session(s), and is typically a longer process.