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How to get a divorce in Maryland

You have 8 different grounds for divorce to choose from — including fault and no-fault options.

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To get a divorce in Maryland, you or your spouse need to have either lived in Maryland for at least six months, or the reason for your divorce needs to have happened in Maryland. From there, you have a few options for how you go about completing your divorce papers and filing them with the courts — from going the DIY route, to using an online divorce service to hiring an attorney to do the legwork for you.

Requirements to get divorced in Maryland

The requirements to get divorced in Maryland depends on where the grounds for divorce occurred. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Grounds for divorce happened in Maryland — you or your spouse must be a resident of Maryland for any period of time to file for divorce.
  • Grounds for divorce happened outside of Maryland — you or your spouse must be a resident of Maryland for at least six months to file for divorce.

Once you meet one of these criteria, you can begin the divorce process by filing a divorce complaint.

What are the grounds for divorce in Maryland

You can file for divorce in Maryland for eight different reasons:

  • Separation. A type of no-fault divorce on the basis that you and your spouse have lived separately without any sexual intercourse for 12 continuous months.
  • Mutual consent. Another type of no-fault divorce with no waiting period as long as you have a written settlement agreement.
  • Adultery. At-fault divorce because your spouse has cheated on you.
  • Desertion. Your spouse has deliberately abandoned you for 12 continuous months with no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
  • Imprisonment. Your spouse has been sentenced to imprisonment for a minimum of three years and has already served one year of the sentence.
  • Insanity. While insanity is no longer a medical diagnosis, it’s an artifact in the legal system to denote “any mental disorder severe enough that it prevents a person from having legal capacity and excuses the person from criminal or civil responsibility,” according to Black’s Law Dictionary. To use this ground for divorce, your spouse must be confined to a mental institution or hospital for at least three years with no hope of recovery.
  • Cruelty or vicious conduct. Your spouse is verbally or physically abusive toward you or your minor children, and there is no chance of reconciliation.

Quick facts about divorce in Maryland

  • Equitable distribution state
  • Divorce filings are public record
  • No mandatory waiting period to get a divorce if you fulfill the requirements
  • Takes approximately 10 to 12 business days to process a divorce verification form online and three to four weeks by mail

Average cost of divorce in Maryland

It will cost you $185 to file your divorce petition with the court if you use an attorney or $165 if you represent yourself. This doesn’t include additional court fees charged by your county, the cost of photocopies or postage expenses.

You should also budget extra costs if you plan to hire an attorney, use an online divorce service or need to go through arbitration or mediation to come to an agreement with your spouse. Here’s an idea of how much you might pay for the various avenues available.

Using online divorce services

Depending on which online divorce service you use and the scope of the work needed, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $1,500. Though some high-end services charge upwards of $3,000 to $6,000 for extra conveniences, including serving your spouse the divorce papers and filing your legal forms for you.

Hiring lawyers

The average cost of a divorce in Maryland is between $11,000 and $13,500 when hiring divorce attorneys, according to a study by Martindale-Nolo Research.

Though this cost could drop down to just a few thousand dollars if your divorce is relatively simple, or balloon to over $20,000 if you have a complicated divorce with lots of assets or child custody disputes.

Most divorce lawyers bill per hour — with the average hourly rate in Maryland ranging from $260 to $325. One way to lower this cost is to negotiate a flat fee with your attorney instead of paying an hourly rate.

Doing it yourself

Handling your own divorce could cost you next to nothing besides the $185 court fee — but what you save in money you’ll pay for in time. That’s because it’s on you to research the divorce process, track down the right legal forms, fill them out and submit them to the courts.

Aside from the filing fee, you might encounter a few other miscellaneous expenses:

  • Copy of court documents: $0.50 per page
  • Certified copy of court documents. $5 for certification plus $0.50 per page for copies
  • Exemplified copy court documents: $10 for exemplification plus $0.50 per page for copies
  • Fee to file a motion to modify alimony, custody, support or visitation: $31

What if I can’t afford the filing fee for a divorce in Maryland?

You can ask the court to forgive the filing fee by completing the Request for Waiver of Prepaid Costs form. You’ll need to submit a signed affidavit of your income and expenses and state that you’re unable to afford the costs because of poverty.

If the judge grants your waiver, the court will process your divorce case. If the court denies your application, you’ll have 10 days to pay the court costs, or it’ll withdraw your claim.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Maryland?

If you pursue a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse need to either have a signed settlement agreement or have been separated for one year before you can file for divorce. There’s no mandatory waiting period to get a divorce in Maryland if you’re filing for an uncontested no-fault divorce.

But if you and your spouse disagree on your divorce terms, the process could take much longer. Issues that could lengthen the divorce process include:

  • Alimony
  • Child custody, support or visitation rights
  • Division of property

According to a study by Martindale-Nolo Research, the average divorce takes 12 months to complete with divorce attorneys or 15 months if children are involved. How long it ultimately takes you to complete your divorce depends on have quickly you and your spouse can come to an agreement on the terms. If that’s done relatively fast, you could complete the divorce process in as little as a month with the help of an online divorce service.

Can I get a divorce in Maryland without going to court?

Yes, it’s possible to get a divorce in Maryland without going to court. The easiest way to accomplish this is through an uncontested, no-fault divorce, in which you and your spouse agree to the terms. You simply fill out your divorce papers on your own or with the help of an online divorce service or attorney and file the documents with the courts.

If you and your spouse are struggling to come to an agreement on terms, you can try mediation, arbitration or collaborative divorce before hashing it out in a courtroom.

Compare online divorce services

Online divorce services roll different perks and services into their pricing. Use the table below to compare your options to find a provider that best fits your needs and budget.

Name Product Cost Includes filing papers with court? File without spouse Legal assistance available Customer service
3 Step Divorce
$299 - $336
No - you must file and pay court fees
Yes
No
Phone, Email
File within one business day of your start date with 3StepDivorce and qualify for a $50 cash rebate. Payment plans available.
LegalZoom online divorce
$499
No - you must file and pay court fees
Yes
Yes
Phone, Email, Live chat
File for an uncontested divorce online or find legal resources to help guide you through the divorce process.
OnlineDivorce.com
$139
No - you must file and pay court fees
Yes
No
Phone, Email
Ready-to-file divorce forms for one flat fee. Step-by-step directions to help simplify uncontested divorces.
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Compare up to 4 providers

How to get a divorce online in Maryland

To file using an online divorce service, you’ll typically follow these steps:

  1. Go to the online divorce service website and fill out a short questionnaire to confirm you qualify.
  2. Take an online interview, which includes answering questions about your marriage and assets.
  3. Enter your payment method.
  4. Receive your divorce papers.
  5. Follow the directions to sign and file the divorce documents at your local courthouse.

Bottom line

No matter what grounds for divorce you choose, you’ll need to meet the Maryland residency requirement before you can file. The most affordable divorce method for uncontested divorces is either doing it yourself or using an online divorce service. Contested divorces can still opt for an online divorce service after you’ve sorted out any contested issues through mediation or arbitration.

For more help throughout the process, read our comprehensive guide to divorce.

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