Divorce in itself can be a harrowing experience for many. And if it is a contested divorce the experience will certainly be horrifying. Without the guidance of an attorney, it is impossible to go through a divorce.
A contested divorce in Maryland is not desired for various reasons, mainly because of the legal expenses and the stress it would cause due to lengthy civil action against a spouse. But we do agree that contested dissolve bonds of matrimony in Maryland is unavoidable, and getting to know the fault-based provisions and grounds for divorce in Maryland will ensure that you settle or pursue the contested dissolve bonds of matrimony further. It doesn’t matter if you plan to work out a dissolve bonds of matrimony agreement or pursue satisfaction in court, all you need is a dissolve bonds of matrimony attorney who will be able to get the dissolve bonds of matrimony agreement that is the most equitable and fair to your needs.
What are the steps to a Maryland contested divorce?
Soon after your meeting with the dissolve bonds of matrimony attorney and the modalities are worked out, the attorney will start preparing for the dissolve bonds of matrimony divorce petition which will be filed at the county family court. You can serve these papers to your partner on your own or with the assistance of the sheriff. However, you could incur some extra charges, depending on the county, to have the sheriff serve papers on your behalf. In case you intend to serve the papers yourself, it is important that you make every attempt to locate the spouse and deliver the dissolve bonds of matrimony notice. When either you or the county cannot locate the spouse, the petition is mailed to their last known address of the spouse. When the spouse does not act in response to the dissolve bonds of matrimony petition, then it will be considered a no-contest dissolve bonds of matrimony and the separation will proceed on the terms set by the petitioner.
On the other hand, if the spouse responds and shows the intention to contest the dissolution of marriage, the judge will call for a hearing. In this hearing, Maryland allows for temporary alimony to be given in case one spouse is dependent on the other. However, this is just a temporary arrangement while the dissolution of marriage proceedings are in progress.
Grounds for divorce
For a sure-fire success in a contested dissolve bonds of matrimony, it is essential to prove the fault. Grounds for dissolution of marriage:
When a spouse leaves the marriages without the consent of the other, it amounts to desertion. It means the deserter needs to be absent from the family for at least 12 months. When you are thinking of obtaining a dissolve bonds of matrimony in this ground, you need to prove to the court that you did not provoke the other spouse to leave the marriage and it was done on his or her own accord. Also, there must be no hope for reconciliation.
Constructive desertion happens when the spouse leaves the marriage to break away from some sort of misconduct inflicted by the other spouse. Most often it is cruelty or abuse. In the court of law, the judge will look at whether this decision to abandon the marriage was indeed reasonable and unavoidable.
The three rules to prove desertion are:
- you must establish your spouse’s absence from the marital home,
- that he left with the intention of ending the marriage,
- and that he did so against your will.
Proving that your spouse is absent from the marital home may be the easiest fact to establish. After you file for dissolution of marriage divorce, you’re entitled to issue subpoenas to third parties if they possess information pertinent to your case.
Permanent and Incurable Insanity
In order to get a divorce on this ground, you need to prove that the insanity of your spouse is both permanent and incurable. Also, it requires the spouse to be confined in a mental institution for at least 3 years, as well as the doctor’s testimony regarding the condition of the patient.
Permanent and incurable insanity is a fault-based ground for divorce. In the context of absolute divorce, a spouse is considered permanently incurable if:
- the spouse has been confined in a mental institution, hospital, or other institution for at least three years prior to filing for the divorce; AND
- at least two physicians competent in psychiatry testifies that the insanity is permanently incurable and there is no hope of recovery; AND
- one of the parties has been a resident of Maryland for at least two years before filing for divorce.
One of the fault-based grounds for divorce is Adultery and there is no waiting period for this ground. If a party claims and proves that his or her spouse committed adultery, the court can grant the divorce immediately.
In order to prove adultery in court, it not necessary to prove that the actual intercourse occurred. However, you must prove that the offending spouse had both the disposition and the opportunity for intercourse outside of the marriage.
It is not enough for your spouse to simply admit to adultery. You must prove it by providing evidence such as text messages, photographs, emails, etc. In case the offending spouse is the husband and a child is born through adultery, this is usually enough to prove a claim of adultery.
There is no clear indication of how adultery relates to same-sex marriages. However, the Maryland Attorney General has issued an opinion suggesting that adultery should include “a spouse’s extramarital sexual infidelity with a person of the same sex.”
Adultery may be a factor in determining the right to alimony and custody of the children only if the court determines that the adulterous behavior has a bad effect on the children.
Conviction of a Crime
The felony conviction of a spouse can disrupt and damage a marriage when the convicted spouse receives an extended prison sentence. The separation due to a jail sentence will certainly lead to financial and emotional strain and can result in dissolve bonds of matrimony. If your spouse has committed a crime and was sentenced to 3 years or more, you can file for divorce once the first 12 months of their sentence is completed.
Voluntary separation means when the spouses live apart without for at least a year. In these cases, you can apply for divorce, even if your spouse doesn’t agree to divorce you.
Any of these grounds can be proven in a contested divorce and doing so will get you a more favorable divorce settlement. If these grounds cannot be proven, there are additional, no-fault grounds that include one year mutual and voluntary separation. If there are any points that are not agreed upon by the spouses, then the divorce is considered a contested divorce, even if all other areas of the divorce are in agreement.
Other options to contested divorce in Maryland
Everyone wants to avoid lengthy court appearances and agree to settle the differences through mediation. In uncontested divorces, a divorce agreement may be negotiated prior to going to court, so that the only action necessary is to present that agreement or certification.
If you need the help of a Maryland divorce lawyer for your Maryland contested divorce case, call our office at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland divorce attorneys are here to help you. C