Although divorce is a complex and emotional process, couples in Maryland might find they can prepare for the process by learning about the general steps. From initial filing through final resolution, understanding what is needed during each step can help you better prepare for the proceedings.
Filing for divorce
Once you are sure you want to end the marriage, you will need to file for divorce. You can do this by filling out and filing an “Original Petition for Divorce” or a “Letter of Complaint.” This document, which is filed with your area’s court clerk, states information necessary to begin the process, including:
- The petitioner’s name
- The plaintiff or defendant’s name
- The names of all the couple’s children
- The reason for the divorce
Once the petition is filed, it is served to the other spouse, usually through the local sheriff. That spouse is then given 21 days to respond and both spouses are given the opportunity to file for temporary orders, such as those of support, custody or protection.
Negotiating the finances
After filing, the process of divorce moves on towards negotiating. First, there is the discovery phase. During this phase, the two parties gather information and documents, which can be used as evidence in the case. They also collect sworn statements from witnesses, which can be used as evidence as well.
Once all evidence is gathered, the parties can begin mediation. In mediation, the parties work with a neutral third party who facilitates the discussion and negotiations to help the spouses reach an agreement on divorce issues such as child custody and support, alimony and division of assets. If this is not successful, the couple might head to court.
Learning about and preparing for each step of the divorce can help you manage the often-overwhelming process. Being prepared can help you keep some control over the outcome and let you focus on the future.