MARYLAND DIVORCE MADE EASY. DOCUMENTS DONE RIGHT!
MARYLAND 3STEPDIVORCE TM - KEEPING YOUR UNCONTESTED DIVORCE SIMPLE
|This easy to use online divorce is a "do it yourself (without a lawyer)" solution for any uncontested divorce (with or without children) that will be filed in the state of Maryland. An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse are in agreement and eliminates the stress and expense of settling your divorce in court.
With 3StepDivorce TM you can complete and print your Maryland divorce forms (including a marital settlement agreement) instantly. Follow our step-by-step filing procedures to file your uncontested divorce in Maryland in a timely, professional, and hassle free fashion. The online software is designed to give you full control of your divorce and also avoids the use of third party data entry, thus helping protect your personal information and privacy.
Online Divorce FAQ: Maryland
Filing for divorce can seem overwhelming. Like starting almost any other legal proceeding, it takes finding the right forms, filling out the forms properly, and understanding the court’s requirements for the next steps you’ll need to take.
Traditionally, most people have hired a lawyer to take care of all the legal matters in their divorce. But more and more couples are turning to a much cheaper option that’s still easier than figuring out everything on their own: filing for divorce online.
If you want to know more, read on for answers to some of the most common questions about online divorce in Maryland.
- How Does Online Divorce Work in Maryland?
- Can I File for Divorce in Maryland?
- What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in Maryland?
- What Are the Grounds for Absolute Divorce in Maryland?
- Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in Maryland?
- Can I Use Maryland 3StepDivorce™ in My Situation?
- What If My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on the Issues in Our Divorce?
- Can I Get an Online Divorce in Maryland If I Have Children?
- How Will My Online Divorce in Maryland Deal With Child Support?
- Will We Be Able to Change the Amount of Child Support After Divorce?
- How Will Online Divorce Handle Property and Debts From Our Marriage?
- What About the Family Home?
- What About Retirement Accounts?
- Can I Get Alimony With an Online Divorce in Maryland?
- How Do I File My Divorce Papers in Maryland?
- How Much Is Maryland’s Filing Fee for Divorce?
- What If I Can’t Afford to Pay the Divorce Filing Fee?
- How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Maryland?
- How Can I Get More Help With Maryland Online Divorce?
How Does Online Divorce Work in Maryland?
Maryland 3StepDivorce™ takes care of the divorce paperwork for you. Once you sign up for the service, you’ll answer some questions about your situation. Based on your responses to the questionnaire, Maryland 3StepDivorce™ will fill out the forms the state requires to start the divorce process, along with instructions for adding any further information that’s needed. You’ll be able to print out the forms yourself immediately or, if you prefer, get hard copies by mail.
Can I File for Divorce in Maryland?
There are two different kinds of divorce under Maryland law:
- “limited divorce,” which is similar to a legal separation in many other states, and
- “absolute divorce,” which is what most people think of a regular divorce.
There are two basic requirements to file for an absolute divorce in Maryland: a residency requirement, and a legally recognized reason for ending your marriage.
What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in Maryland?
Generally, you may file for divorce in Maryland as long as either you or your spouse live in the state and consider it your permanent home. However, if the cause of your divorce (more on that below) happened outside of the state, one of you must have lived in Maryland for at least six months before you file for divorce. (Md. Code, Fam. Law § 7-101 (2022).)
What Are the Grounds for Absolute Divorce in Maryland?
You may file for an absolute divorce in Maryland based on either “no-fault” or “fault” grounds. When you file for a no-fault divorce, you don’t have to prove that your spouse was at fault for ending the marriage. Maryland has two no-fault grounds for divorce:
- Separation. You and your spouse must have lived separate and apart, without interruption or sexual relations, for at least 12 months..
- Mutual consent.You and your spouse submit a signed marital settlement agreement that resolves all of the issues related to the division of your marital property, alimony, and—if you have minor children together—child custody, visitation, and child support.
A fault divorce is based on a claim that your marriage is ending because your spouse engaged in a certain kind of misconduct, such as adultery, cruelty, or desertion. (Md. Code, Fam. Law § 7-103 (2022).)
Fault-based divorces are almost always more expensive and lengthy, because the spouse accused of misconduct is sure to fight the allegations. And of course, a no-fault divorce based on separation means waiting at least a year before you can start the divorce proceedings. So absolute divorce by mutual consent is the quickest and cheapest way to end your marriage in Maryland—as long as you and your spouse can work out a settlement agreement.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in Maryland?
Many Maryland residents are finding that they can file for divorce and get through the process without the expense of hiring a lawyer if they’re filing for an absolute divorce by mutual consent.
If you aren’t able to reach a settlement agreement with your spouse (more on that below), you’ll have to file for a traditional, contested divorce. Because that will involve legal battles and presenting evidence and arguments at court hearings, it would be risky to pursue a contested divorce without a lawyer to navigate the process for you—especially if your spouse has an attorney.
Can I Use Maryland 3StepDivorce™ in My Situation?
You may use Maryland 3StepDivorce™ if:
- you meet the state’s residency requirement, and
- you’re filing for an absolute divorce based on mutual consent.
Along with the marital settlement agreement, you’ll need to submit a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet if you have minor children (more on that below). Maryland 3StepDivorce™ will guide you through the process of creating your settlement agreement and completing the worksheet, based on your answers to the questionnaire.
Maryland 3StepDivorce™ can also help if you and your spouse aren’t ready to file for absolute divorce—for instance, if you haven’t been able to reach a final marital settlement agreement required for divorce by mutual consent but haven’t been living apart for a year—and you want a separation agreement to make temporary arrangements for the support, custody of your children, who will stay in the family home, and how to take care of the bills while you’re separated but still legally married.
What If My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on the Issues in Our Divorce?
Just because you haven’t been able to agree with your spouse about everything in your divorce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go through an expensive and time-consuming contested divorce. You could try divorce mediation. If you’re able to resolve your disagreements with the mediator’s help, you can then use Maryland 3StepDivorce™ to prepare the written settlement agreement, along with the other paperwork for an absolute divorce by mutual consent.
Can I Get an Online Divorce in Maryland If I Have Children?
Generally, you can use Maryland 3StepDivorce™ even when you have minor children with your spouse, as long as you agree on all of the issues related to your kids, including legal and physical custody, a parenting (visitation) schedule, child support, health and dental insurance, and tax deductions. Maryland 3StepDivorce™ will allow you to address these issues in your settlement agreement. We provide a standard parenting schedule, but you’ll have an option of customizing the schedule to meet your individual needs.
However, you won’t be able to address custody-related issues with Maryland 3StepDivorce™ if the affected child or children don’t meet the “home state” requirement. Usually, that means the child must have lived in Maryland with a parent (or a parent figure) during the entire six-month period before you file for divorce (or since birth if the child is younger than six months old). If you don’t meet the six-month rule, you should speak with an attorney to find out whether you might qualify for one of the complicated exceptions to this rule. (Md. Code, Fam. Law §§ 9.5-101, 9.5-201, 9.5-204 (2022).)
How Will My Online Divorce in Maryland Deal With Child Support?
In Maryland, both parents have an obligation to support their children. And like all states, Maryland has child support guidelines for calculating how much support the parents should pay, based largely on their incomes and custody arrangements.
3StepDivorce™ provides the Maryland Child Support Guideline Worksheets, so you can easily calculate the state's guideline level of support. You and your spouse may agree to an amount of child support that differs from the guideline amount, but the judge will need to review and approve your agreement. If the amount of child support deviates from the guideline, the judge must find that applying the guideline would be “unjust or inappropriate” under the circumstances.
In your settlement agreement, you and your spouse may include child support provisions that aren’t legally required, such as a parent’s contributions to private school tuition or the cost of a child’s college education. You may also agree on some specific questions like which parent will claim the children as dependents on tax returns.
Will We Be Able to Change the Amount of Child Support After Divorce?
After your divorce in Maryland is final, you (or your spouse) may request a change in the amount of child support, but you’ll need to show that there has been a “material” change in circumstances—either parent’s ability to pay support or the child’s needs. The judge will review your request based on the same legal requirements for an original child support order.If you want to save the time and expense of a court battle over a request to modify child support, you and your spouse may agree to a modification on your own. But you should submit your agreement for a judge’s review so that it will be made part of a court order (and therefore enforceable like any other court order).
If your circumstances have changed (or if it’s been three years since your divorce or most recent child support order), you may request a review from the Child Support Administration of the Maryland Department of Human Services by calling their Customer Care Center at 1-800-332-6347.
How Will Online Divorce Handle Property and Debts From Our Marriage?
When you fill out your questionnaire for Maryland 3StepDivorce™, you’ll answer a series of questions about your separate and marital property and debts, including how you’ll divide your marital property and allocate responsibility for payment of the marital debts.
What About the Family Home?
If you own a home with your spouse, your agreement can spell out what will happen to it when you get divorced. Here again, the questionnaire will include a few questions about the property and how you’ve chosen to deal with it, such as:
- selling the house and splitting the proceeds
- transferring ownership to one spouse, with the other spouse receiving money or other assets in exchange for that spouse’s share, or
- continuing to own the property together while allowing one spouse to stay in the house for a period of time (and, if so, how you’ll handle paying the mortgage and other ongoing costs).
What About Retirement Accounts?
In your Maryland 3StepDivorce™, you may also agree on whether and how you’ll divide any retirement accounts that you and your spouse have, including 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and defined-benefit pensions.
If you started contributing to the retirement plan before you were married, you’ll start by figuring out how much of its current value is marital property and how much is your separate property. There are experts and firms that will do this for you (for a fee, of course). The service is usually known as a pension appraisal or valuation. You’ll almost always need this kind of expert help when you’re dealing with a defined-benefit pension.
Once you know the marital value of your work-related retirement accounts, the easiest way to handle the division of the assets is not to split them but to transfer other assets as an offset. Here’s how that works: Say you have a 401(k) through your job, and the marital portion of the account is worth $100,000. If you and your spouse agree to divide that portion down the middle, and you have other marital assets to divide (such as a regular savings account), your spouse could receive an extra $50,000 from those assets while you keep the entire 401(k). That way, you don’t have to hire another expert to prepare the kind of special order that’s needed to tell the 401(k) administrator how to divide the account.
The rules are different for IRAs. You may simply agree to have your spouse’s share transferred to another IRA account in that spouse’s name. (You’ll have to submit a special form to the bank, along with a copy of your divorce decree.)
Can I Get Alimony With an Online Divorce in Maryland?
You and your spouse may waive any right to alimony in your Maryland divorce, or you may agree on the specifics of alimony payments: who will pay, how much, and for how long. Your agreement may also state whether a court could modify alimony at any time in the future, and it could cover related issues like health insurance and life insurance.
How Do I File My Divorce Papers in Maryland?
When you get your completed forms with Maryland 3StepDivorce™, your next step will be to take the paperwork for filing to the circuit court clerk’s office in the county where you live, or where your spouse lives, works, or runs a business. (Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 6-201, 6-202 (2022).) Call or check on the court clerk’s website to see if you can file your forms electronically.
How Much Is Maryland’s Filing Fee for Divorce?
The fee to file for an absolute divorce is $165, under the circuit court fee schedule that was effective September 2021.
What If I Can’t Afford to Pay the Divorce Filing Fee?
If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee, you may ask the court to waive the fees by filing a Request for Waiver of Prepaid Costs.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Maryland?
Maryland doesn’t have a mandatory waiting period before you can finalize an absolute divorce by mutual consent. Once you’ve filed your paperwork, you need to build in time to serve your spouse with the divorce papers, for your spouse to file an answer, and for the court to schedule a hearing. Depending on how busy the court is, all of that can take one to four months.
How Can I Get More Help With Maryland Online Divorce?
Maryland 3StepDivorce™ provides unlimited, live, person-to-person support for customers. If you have any questions about how uncontested divorce works, call our Maryland Divorce Online Help Center at (888) 665-6782 (toll free), Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm (Pacific Time).
Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers and so cannot give out legal advice. If you have questions about Maryland law or need legal advice, we recommend that you contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.