Towson Divorce Lawyer
Getting a divorce is not easy, especially without the right legal representation. If you intend to end your marriage or your spouse has already served you with divorce papers, it’s in your best interest to consult a Towson divorce lawyer. Even though the lawyer won’t take away your pain, they can help you navigate the entire legal process and reach the most favorable outcome possible.
At Lebovitz Law, we understand this is a difficult period for you and your family. Our lawyers in Towson are ready to provide you with valuable legal advice and protect your legal rights during divorce proceedings. Our main mission is to provide you with passionate legal representation and ensure the divorce process goes smoothly for all parties involved.
Maryland Divorce Process
Either spouse can file for divorce in Maryland, provided the grounds for divorce occurred in Maryland or either spouse has been a resident of the state for at least six months. The divorce process begins by filing a complaint (petition for divorce) in court and serving a copy of the legal papers on the other party. If the couple has already completed a separation agreement settling issues of property, alimony, child custody and support, they can file for a divorce by mutual consent. Otherwise, the case will proceed toward a trial to resolve any contested issues, unless the parties settle their differences before then.
As the case proceeds toward trial, both parties will make financial disclosures, and the parties will have a period to learn facts about each other’s finances and other issues so they can mediate, settle or litigate as necessary. If the case goes to trial, the judge will hear evidence and arguments from both sides and decide how the issues should be resolved. The divorce becomes final 30 days after the judge signs the final decree unless either party appeals the decision to a higher court.
Here is a step-by-step guide to the Maryland divorce process:
Filing a complaint
The official divorce process in Maryland starts when a spouse files a Complaint for Absolute Divorce or a Complaint for Limited Divorce with the circuit court. This complaint is usually filed during the separation period and outlines the need for divorce, the grounds for divorce, and the issues to be resolved by the court.
Serving your spouse
Once you’ve filed the complaint with the circuit court, the clerk will issue you with a Writ of Summons. This document and the divorce papers must be served to your spouse. In Maryland, you may serve your spouse with divorce papers through the following:
- Any person over 18 years old
- A county sheriff or a private process server. Both usually charge a fee for this service.
- Via U.S. mail with a return receipt. If you opt to send the divorce papers via the U.S. postal service, someone else must mail the paperwork since they’ll be required to fill out the affidavit of service.
Once a spouse has been served with the divorce papers, they have 30 days to respond to the complaint you’ve filed. If a spouse currently lives out of state or out of the country, they have 60 days and 90 days to respond to the complaint, respectively. In the response, the spouse can admit or deny the allegations against them.
Hire a divorce lawyer
Even though you’re allowed to represent yourself in divorce proceedings, it will serve you better to enlist an experienced Towson attorney to handle the case on your behalf. Your divorce lawyer will represent you during the Pendente Lite (PL) hearing to try and reach an agreement regarding the main issues of the divorce.
Settlement and status conferences
Before the case proceeds to a trial, you and your spouse can use status conferences to discuss each other’s finances and try to reach an alternative dispute resolution without a trial. This can involve a settlement or mediation. A divorce trial will only be necessary if these alternative dispute resolution methods fail.
Divorce trial (merits hearing)
In Maryland, the last step in a divorce process is the trial. During the trial, both spouses will present evidence in court, and the judge will listen to their arguments. Eventually, the judge will make a final decision regarding all the issues the couple couldn’t agree upon.
If your divorce is complex, the court will likely bifurcate the trial into two stages. The first stage will address everything related to child custody, child support, and alimony. The second stage will address issues pertaining to the division of assets and the final divorce.
Unless you or your spouse files an appeal within 30 days after the final decree has been signed, the judge’s decision is final.
Limited divorce refers to a situation where a married couple is legally separated. This type of divorce doesn’t end a marriage. During separation, neither spouse is supposed to remarry or have sexual relations with other people. If one spouse engages in sexual relations with another person, they’ll have committed adultery. A court grants limited divorce when there are no grounds for absolute divorce and the married couple cannot resolve their issues privately.
On the other hand, an absolute divorce is a permanent and legal end to a marriage. Before a court grants an absolute divorce, a spouse must come forward and state the grounds for divorce. Once an absolute divorce is finalized, either person is free to remarry.
How Lebovitz Law Can Help With Your Maryland Divorce
Divorce is a complex process for most married couples. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate this process alone. You can always reach out to a divorce attorney for help. The Towson divorce lawyers at Lebovitz Law will do the following to help with your Maryland divorce:
- Explain the grounds for divorce to you and advise you on the best legal path to take
- Provide you with objective advice throughout the divorce process
- Help you account for all marital assets and liabilities
- Explain to you the concept of property division
- Handle child support and alimony negotiations on your behalf
- Help you prepare divorce papers or respond to your spouse’s petition for divorce
- Negotiate a fair settlement regarding the marital estate
- Represent you in a divorce trial, if necessary
Where Do I Start?
Starting a divorce process is much simpler when you have a lawyer by your side and the know-how of Maryland divorce laws. The first steps in a divorce process include:
Gather any important documents
Before the official divorce process begins, you and your lawyer must gather important information related to your marriage and the supporting documents. You’ll need to gather documents related to income, marital estate, joint financial accounts, life insurance, marital debts, pension funds, and vehicles owned.
Figure out if your divorce is contested or uncontested
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the major divorce issues, the divorce process becomes contested and will likely take longer to resolve. On the other hand, if you and your spouse agree on all the main issues of the divorce, your divorce becomes uncontested and can be resolved by mutual consent. This is undoubtedly the fastest way to get a divorce in Maryland.
To qualify for a mutual consent divorce, you and your spouse must have reached a written agreement on the following issues:
- Marital property and assets division
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Child custody, child support, and parenting plans
- Debts division
- Tax exemptions and deductions
We Can Help You Avoid Court
Divorce doesn’t have to involve multiple court hearings and a trial. At Lebovitz Law, we can help you and your spouse avoid this outcome by representing you in the following alternative dispute resolution (ADR) sessions:
- Divorce negotiation: The married couple sits down and tries to come to a mutual understanding regarding all the basic divorce issues, such as child custody, alimony, property division, and child support.
- Divorce mediation: The married couple may decide to involve a third party (divorce mediator) to guide them through the negotiation process.
- Divorce arbitration: In this case, a professional arbitrator will listen to the cases presented by both sides and render a decision. The married couple is allowed to choose between binding and non-binding arbitration.
- Collaborative divorce: Each spouse and their lawyer will participate in ‘four-way’ sessions in an attempt to reach an agreement.
Contact Lebovitz Law Today
If you’re looking for the best family law attorney in Maryland to help you navigate the divorce process, don’t hesitate to contact us at Lebovitz Law today. We will guide you through every step of the way and help you achieve the best possible outcome with your Maryland divorce case.
What is an uncontested divorce?
This is a type of divorce whereby the married couple agrees on major divorce issues such as child custody, spousal support, child support, and property division.
Who can file for divorce in Maryland?
Anyone can file for divorce in Maryland provided they have a valid marriage and they’re domiciled in the state.
How long will my divorce take?
The amount of time a divorce takes in Maryland depends on various factors. An uncontested divorce usually takes 60 to 90 days if both parties agree on the major divorce issues. On the other hand, a contested divorce involving a trial may take up to a year.