What Interested You In Practicing Family Law In Maryland?
I became interested in practicing family law in Maryland while handling family law cases for the firm where I was employed for about eight or nine years. The firm focused on family law work, personal injury work, and criminal defense cases. These are the areas where I had most of my training; this includes the family law arena. I continued with family law when I opened up my own firm in 2012. I have been practicing law since 2003.
How Does the Process Of Divorce Work in Maryland?
Unbeknownst to a lot of people, you need grounds for divorce in Maryland. I receive many phone calls from perspective clients requesting a divorce in Maryland under irreconcilable differences grounds. There is no such thing in Maryland as irreconcilable differences. We have two (2) no fault grounds in Maryland for Absolute Divorce (1) separation of one year or more (2) mutual consent of the parties—meaning the parties agree on all issues and they have no minor children together. Maryland does allow divorce under fault base grounds as well (meaning you have to prove these grounds): the most popular of these is adultery, followed by cruelty, and another is excessively vicious conduct.
Why Should a Divorcing Couple Hire Separate Attorneys as Opposed to a Single Attorney for Both?
If it’s an amicable divorce and everything has been worked out, you shouldn’t need to hire a lawyer. Unless you request a waiver—and these are very rare—to get a divorce one needs to pay the $165 filing fee to file for an Absolute Divorce or Limited Divorce. Once the other person is served, and an Answer is filed or a Default is entered, the court will enter the case for a 10-minute uncontested hearing. If testimony taken is sufficient, a divorce will be granted.
It is not prudent, and maybe even unethical, to represent both sides to a divorce proceeding. Unless it’s a mediation where you’re trying to get the matter resolved on behalf of both parties, one lawyer shouldn’t represent both Plaintiff and Defendant in a divorce proceeding.
Do I Need a Valid Reason to File for Divorce in Maryland?
The actual grounds that are listed for an absolute divorce can be found in Maryland Law Family Code 7-103. The most commonly used ones are mutual consent and that’s for parties who don’t have a minor child in common. The other most commonly used one is a one year separation. Those are two (2) no fault grounds in Maryland. Everything else is fault based, meaning you’ll have to prove adultery or you’ll have to prove cruelty or you’ll have to prove desertion, so on and so forth.
Is There a Mandatory Period of Separation Prior to Filing For Divorce in Maryland?
If the parties are separated for less than a year, the result may be a limited divorce or being legally separated. If you want an absolute divorce (a complete divorce) you must be separated for one full calendar year uninterrupted. I’ve had people try to piece/patch time together, “Oh, we were separated three months, got back together, and we’ve been separated 10 months.” No, it has to be continuous and uninterrupted for one full calendar year to get what we call an absolute or a complete divorce in Maryland.
For more information on Practicing Family Law in Maryland, a free initial case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (800) 400-2350 today.