Are you getting a divorce in Maryland?
A chart featured in the Indy100 listed the top 10 most stressful events in life according to polls. It turned out that divorce is the second most stressful event, right after death of a spouse. Here is a chart showcasing the other 8.
The process of divorce in Maryland can be rather taxing emotionally, mentally, and financially, since it is a tricky process altogether. Divorce attorneys in Maryland all agree that contested divorces are much more complicated than uncontested divorces.
Here, we will consider the intricacies involved and the favors you can do yourself in the process.
What Is a Contested Divorce in Maryland?
Contested divorces occur when couples are unable to agree on the terms of their divorce. Contested divorces are actually more common than uncontested divorces, which often leads to litigation.
Some important decisions a judge makes during the course of an contested divorce include:
- Custody of children
- Alimony agreement
- Property division
- Maternity/paternity costs, if applicable
- And other contested divorce terms
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is the opposite of a contested divorce. Just because it is uncontested doesn’t mean that there are not any disputes, though; just that both parties have come to an agreement. Remember, there is no law that suggests that the agreement needs to be mutually beneficial.
Having said that, it is important that you get the help of a divorce attorney and that will not only protect your rights, but guide you through the process.
What Do I Do in Case of a Contested Divorce?
There are several options couples have at their disposal other than going to trial with their contested divorce. This will include resolving the issue(s) outside of court with the help of a mediator. These are unbiased third party(s) hired by both of you and paid for by both or one of you by mutual agreement.
However, if mediation isn’t working for you, you can go to court as well. Here is what you should do when faced with a contested divorce in Maryland.
If there is no option left other than taking your divorce to court, the first aspect to consider includes the legal fee. These expenses can vary greatly depending on several key factors:
- The sheer number and nature of issues involved
- Court fees. The bare minimum that you might have to pay will be the filing fee. In Maryland, this is about $215 but can vary from county to county as well. When you pay a divorce attorney their fee, they usually also include this fee in the initial retainer.
- Attorney fees. Again, this can vary from attorney to attorney. We would recommend that you get in touch with us, no matter your budget for a quick quote. We’ll help you get the best possible representation in your hour of need in the most wallet-friendly manner.
- Costs associated with rulings. Whether it’s child support, property division, alimony, or a blend of it all, these costs can be rather significant and have known to have a severe impact on individuals.
Then comes the preparation that goes into getting you ready for the trial. This is where you and your attorney will be working together to gather all the necessary evidence that can prove your side. This may include, but isn’t limited to:
- Preparing you for cross examination, i.e., questions that your spouse’s divorce lawyer may ask you.
- Collecting bank statements, bills, mortgage, business records, contributions and agreements made, conversations and chats, or anything else that may prove that you are on the right side in a given argument.
- Your attorney will sift through case laws with respect to your position to try and identify prior precedents in your favor
- Preparing your children, if any, for the proceedings
- Discovery, i.e., looking for more evidence or facts that may ‘compel the court for further discovery’
Remember, just because you are in court doesn’t mean that there isn’t a chance to settle prior to litigation. In fact, in many cases, judges may even ask the counsel (lawyers) if they have managed to come to an agreement.
During all of this, a complaint is filed by you or your spouse. Whoever files the complaint is known as the “plaintiff” while the other party is known as the “defendant”.
The Contested Divorce Trial Process
Before the trial process begins, the validity of the complaint is determined. Requirements for validity include:
- The plaintiff must have lived in Maryland for no less than twelve (12) months prior to the filing
- The complaint must state
- the date and place of marriage
- the original name of both parties
- name and birth dates of minor children, if any
- Claim of statutory grounds for divorce
It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to serve the divorce papers to the defendant. In many cases, these papers are served by the divorce attorney on their client’s behalf.
The defendant will then have to file an answer to the plaintiff or the attorney in Maryland in which they either admit or deny the allegations. This is also where counterclaims are raised. Even at this point, it is possible for the spouses to come to a mutual agreement.
Both parties will then need to appear in court at a given date. Usually, the attorneys help acquire this date since you are stressed enough as is. Both parties will have the option to bring witnesses in court.
The court then oversees all the elements involved in the case and makes a decision thereafter. This decision may be appealed. Otherwise, it is legally bounding for both parties, regardless of the decision.
Finding the Best Divorce Lawyers in Maryland
At the Family Law Offices of Kelley Spigel, we are a compassionate group that understands the emotional rollercoaster you are on right now and therefore do whatever we can to make your legal situation better. It is our pledge to give you a personalized strategy to navigate this tricky situation.
For legal help regarding uncontested and contested divorce in Maryland, we recommend you give us a call and discuss options. Whether you need representation or just advice, we’re here to help!