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Navigating divorce can be a potentially complicated and expensive process. But if you and your spouse can agree on the terms of the divorce, you may be able to complete the process online.
Here’s what you need to know to get started in Maryland: the requirements, the costs and choices available to you to complete your divorce.
To get a divorce in Maryland, you or your spouse must meet one of these residency requirements:
If you meet these requirements, you or your spouse can initiate the divorce process by filing a divorce petition.
In Maryland, you don’t need to prove any wrongdoing on your spouse’s part to get a divorce — in other words, you can pursue a no-fault divorce. You can also initiate a fault divorce for such reasons as abandonment or adultery.
Whether you need to go to court depends on whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. Before you and your spouse can be divorced, you both need to reach an agreement on the divorce terms.
If you don’t agree on the terms, your divorce is contested. In this case, the issues you and your spouse disagree on may need to be settled by a court.
Even if you and your spouse disagree on some issues, you don’t necessarily need to go to court. Here are a few alternative paths:
You can find more information about mediation and collaborative divorce at the Maryland Courts website.
If you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce, you have an uncontested divorce. You don’t have to appear in court. It is possible to complete your divorce by drafting an agreement and filling out the appropriate forms, then sending them to the court.
There are various ways to complete an uncontested divorce, including:
Online divorce services are best for couples who can agree on the terms of the divorce, including division of assets, alimony and parental responsibilities if you have children.
It will cost you $185 to file your divorce petition with the court if you use an attorney and $165 if you represent yourself. You may pay additional court fees, depending on your county.
Additional costs for your divorce will vary depending on which route you take to resolve it. Here are approximate costs for various paths.
Preparing your divorce yourself will cost little to nothing besides additional court fees you may need to pay. However, the process takes more time, because you will need to conduct your own research and ensure you have filled out the divorce forms correctly.
Depending on the online divorce service you use and how much assistance you need, you could expect to pay anywhere between $150 to $1,500. However, some high-end services can run you upwards of $3,000.
Costs vary depending on the benefits offered. For example, some services only help you prepare the right forms; others provide tutorials, professional review of your documents and spousal-support plans.
According to a study by Martindale Nolo Research, the average cost for a divorce in Maryland is between $11,000 and $13,500 when hiring divorce attorneys.
If your divorce is relatively simple, the cost will be around a few thousand dollars at a minimum. For complicated divorces — like those involving child custody — the cost could be as high as $23,000.
Typically, lawyers will bill you hourly — between $260 and $325 per hour on average. If you choose to hire divorce lawyers, consider negotiating a flat fee for your divorce.
If you pursue a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse need to have signed a settlement agreement or have been separated for one year before you can file for divorce. There is no mandatory waiting period to get a divorce in Maryland if you meet the requirements.
If you and your spouse disagree on your divorce terms, the process could take much longer. Issues that could lengthen the divorce process include:
According to a study by Martindale Nolo Research, the average divorce takes 12 months to complete with divorce attorneys. But the timing differs whether or not you have children with your spouse: about 11 months without children versus 15 months if children are involved.
If you and your spouse agree on most issues, the details of your divorce could be settled relatively quickly. For example, an online service for uncontested divorces can help a couple come to a resolution in as little as a month.
Online divorce services are for couples who can work together on divorce terms and who agree on most issues. To use one, you need to:
Once you purchase a plan with your online divorce service, you will be given the relevant divorce forms for your county.
Online divorce services like Wevorce and MyDivorcePapers make it easy to quickly get the divorce process rolling.
While the signup process may vary by service, in general you’ll:
If you’ve signed up for an online divorce service, you will be presented with the divorce forms you need to complete. You will also be given instructions on how to file the documents with your local court.
Rest assured that your online service will guide you from the beginning to the end of the divorce process, when you can move on to healing.
Professional legal guidance can help alleviate some of the stress when navigating the divorce process.
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