Of the many calls we get from potential clients calling about getting a divorce, I am frequently asked what is the quickest way to do this. This question usually comes from those who are lucky enough to have what is called an uncontested case. This means that the spouses are already in agreement over issues that would normally be settled in a divorce proceeding such as property and asset division, child support, insurance coverage, child custody, tax deductions, and alimony. For many people seeking a divorce, even with an uncontested divorce, there are a few major issues to consider.
The first being whether or not you can even get a divorce in the State of Maryland. To be able to get a divorce here, either you or your spouse must currently be living in Maryland and have done so for a year. However, if neither of you are a current Maryland resident, you may still be eligible for divorce if the grounds for the divorce occurred in Maryland.
Speaking of grounds, this brings us to the second consideration. Maryland is one of the unique states that requires there to be a fault ground to get an immediate divorce without a waiting period. These grounds, however, are likely to be contested as they are adultery and cruelty. The other fault grounds are insanity, felony conviction, and desertion, which do require a significant waiting period. Maryland’s non-fault ground for divorce is a simple consecutive twelve-month separation without living together or sexual relations and with no hope of reconciliation.
Recently, the Senate passed a bill allowing married couples to file for a mutual consent divorce as long as they have no children and have a settlement agreement. This bill could potentially allow married couples to divorce without a waiting period. However, we will have to wait until October to see if that comes into affect.
For now, the quickest route to obtain a divorce is an uncontested, no fault twelve month separation. In order to meet the requirements for this type of divorce, it is important to clearly establish the separation date. This will determine the twelve-month mark for when you can file a complaint for absolute divorce. If there are issues between the parties that have already been settled between them, it is important to have a written agreement laying out these issues, so that the court can see that it is truly uncontested. This is something that is best written by an attorney. The agreement should be attached to the divorce complaint filed by one party no sooner than twelve-months since the date of separation. After that the other party MUST be served and file an answer. From there on, a hearing will be held along with testimony on the residency and separation requirements as well as questioning from the judge. Finally, the judge will officially pronounce you no longer married through an Order.