Navigating a Contested Divorce in Maryland: What You Need to Know

According to PsychCentral, divorce ranks number two among the top 10 stressors in life, second only to the death of a spouse. In Maryland, there are 2.4 divorces per 1,000 marriages, as reported by the CDC. Although the divorce process can inflict a significant amount of emotional and financial stress, there are times when Maryland couples will realize it’s the best option.

Have you made the extremely difficult decision to end your marriage? Understanding which process suits your situation and the necessary steps to take is vital to making the process as smooth as possible.

In this blog, our Maryland divorce lawyers provide an overview of contested divorce in Maryland and related family law matters. Continue reading to learn more, then consider contacting Fait & DiLima, LLP at (301) 251-0100 to schedule a consultation. Our Maryland law firm moves mountains for you to arrive at a positive outcome in a timely manner.

Are You Getting a Divorce in Maryland?

Maryland law requires one of the parties to the divorce to be a resident of the state for at least one year before filing for divorce unless:

  • The grounds for divorce occurred in Maryland; or
  • Insanity is the basis for divorce.

In the case of insanity, the person seeking the divorce must have resided in Maryland for at least two years.

What Is a Contested Divorce?

When couples cannot agree on all their divorce issues, it’s a contested divorce. These disagreements can involve several critical factors such as child support, child custody, division of finances and assets, spousal support (alimony), or other matters related to their relationship.

Generally, couples with contested divorces attempt to resolve their legal matters between themselves, through negotiation or mediation. If these methods prove unsuccessful, they must go to court, where a judge who handles divorce proceedings will decide the divorce terms.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

By contrast, in an uncontested divorce, the two parties agree on all the divorce and family matters — often through mediation or negotiation.

In an uncontested divorce, a judge must review and approve the details of the couple’s agreement, but s/he doesn’t make the decisions themselves. Agreements couples make during uncontested divorces can still be modified later if necessary.

How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Maryland?

The time required to finalize a contested divorce varies significantly and depends on several factors. Generally speaking, the process usually takes several months to complete, depending on which factors are at issue, such as prenuptial agreements, alimony payments, custody battles,  and retirement benefits. In some cases, it may take longer for Maryland residents and their divorce attorneys to resolve a contested divorce.

What Should I Do When Dealing with a Contested Divorce?

If you face a contested divorce, remember that the process can feel emotionally and financially draining. To preserve your well-being, take your time and consider all options before making any decisions.  And always turn to your family law attorney for their counsel and leadership.

When faced with the decision to go to court for your divorce, understanding the various expenses involved is crucial. We are here to guide you through the process and ensure you receive the best legal representation cost-effectively.

Before Trial

Before going to court, ensure that you have gathered all the necessary paperwork and documentation, including financial documents such as pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, or other records related to your finances. A clear understanding of what you hope to achieve through the divorce process is also vital.

Legal Fees

Concerning taking your divorce to court, one of the most important factors to consider is the legal fees involved. The amount you will have to pay can vary depending on several critical variables :

  1. The number and complexity of the issues involved.
  2. Court fees. This fee is usually included in the initial retainer you pay to your divorce attorney.
  3. Attorney fees. The cost of hiring a divorce attorney can vary from one lawyer to another and definitely depends also on how complex and time consuming your divorce turns out to be.
  4. Costs related to legal rulings. The associated costs can be significant, whether it’s child support, property division, alimony, or a combination of these factors. It’s essential to be aware of the potential impact on your finances.

The Contested Divorce Trial Process

Before a trial begins in Maryland, the validity of the complaint is determined. The requirements for a valid complaint include the following:

  • The plaintiff must have lived in Maryland for at least twelve (12) months before filing.
  • The complaint must claim statutory grounds for divorce.
  • The plaintiff’s attorney is responsible for serving the divorce papers to the defendant. The defendant must then file an answer to the plaintiff or his/her lawyer, either admitting or denying the allegations. This answer also presents an opportunity to raise counterclaims. However, the spouses can still reach a mutual agreement even at this stage.

Both parties will be required to appear in court on a specified date. Typically, lawyers in Maryland assist in determining this date to alleviate the stress for the two parties. Both spouses can also opt to bring witnesses to court.

Once in court, both sides will present their case and evidence to the judge. This effort may include witness testimony, document reviews, or other evidence that can help the court decide. After hearing both sides of the story, the judge will decide how to divide up assets and debts, award child custody and support, and, if necessary, grant spousal support. If neither party appeals the decision, it is legally binding.

After the Trial

Once a judge has made his/her decision, following the instructions you have received is crucial in ensuring that the divorce goes through smoothly. These instructions could include making payments or filing paperwork with the court. Remember, you can appeal contested divorce decisions if necessary.

If you’re facing a contested divorce in Maryland, it’s important to remember that you are not alone and there is help available. Knowing what to expect throughout the process and understanding your rights can make it easier to navigate the situation successfully. With the proper support and guidance, you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family.

Key Takeaways for Maryland Divorce Cases

  • To be eligible to file for divorce in Maryland, you must have been separated for at least six months.
  • A contested divorce is when two people cannot agree on all the issues related to their divorce.
  • An uncontested divorce is when two people agree on all the matters related to their divorce.
  • The length of a contested divorce can vary significantly and depends on many factors.
  • Having all of your paperwork and documentation in order before going to court for a contested divorce is crucial.
  • After the trial, following the judge’s instructions is pivotal for the divorce to go smoothly.
  • Knowing your rights and understanding the process can make navigating a contested divorce in Maryland easier. An experienced divorce lawyer is your ally in providing the proper support and guidance to help you make the best decisions for you and your family.

Fait & DiLima, LLP: We Move Mountains for You

Concerning contested divorces, having a legal team with extensive experience on your side is essential. Family law attorneys with broad knowledge can offer professional advice to protect your rights and interests throughout the process. In addition, a Maryland family law firm can support you as you navigate the complex emotions involved.

At Fait & DiLima, LLP, we understand that contested divorces can be emotionally and financially draining. We offer more than competent, effective, and knowledgeable legal services; we advocate fiercely on your behalf and help you find the emotional support you need. And in your private life, whether through counseling, friends, family, or a solid network of people, confiding in others can help make the situation much easier to manage.

With more than 100 years of collective experience, our award-winning team has successfully represented men and women in thousands of divorce cases. If you’d like to consider our working on your behalf, contact us today at (301) 251-0100 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation. Our offices are located in Rockville and Frederick. For your convenience, we also offer online meetings.

Copyright © 2023. Fait & DiLima, LLP. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Fait & DiLima, LLP
One Church St., Suite 800
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 251-0100



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