Divorce in Maryland

Put in the simplest terms, divorce is the legal process that ends a marriage. But as anyone who has ever considered or experienced a divorce knows, little about this process is simple. Just as marriage is more than a legal relationship, divorce is more than a legal process. Divorce impacts your finances, your relationship with your children and others, and touches nearly every aspect of your life in some fashion.

When you are standing on the brink of divorce, you are in unfamiliar territory and facing an unfamiliar process. The Maryland divorce attorneys at Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield provide you with the advice, tools, resources, support, and advocacy you need to navigate the divorce process and we work tirelessly to pursue your objectives in connection with the next chapter of your life.

Fundamentals of Divorce Law and Process

Part of the reason that divorce feels so overwhelming is that few people know what to expect. Most people going through a divorce have never experienced one. Our Maryland divorce attorneys find that understanding the language of divorce, and having a predictive roadmap for the process, helps our clients feel more in control of how this new chapter unfolds.

The legal process for divorce in Maryland begins with one spouse (called the complainant) filing a complaint for divorce and serving it on the other spouse (called the respondent), who then has a chance to file a response to the allegations in the complaint. The parties next have the opportunity to exchange relevant information and documents during the discovery phase of the case.

Throughout the case, the divorcing spouses and their attorneys will attempt to resolve areas of dispute and reach a settlement of their divorce. If the parties cannot agree to settle their disputes, the divorce may go to trial, using evidence gathered during discovery, at which time a judge will make the decisions that resolve any disputes

Working with an experienced family law attorney can make the legal process much less stressful. At Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield, our Maryland divorce attorneys ensure that your questions are answered, your interests are protected, and you are prepared for what lies ahead.

Recent Changes to Maryland Divorce Law

Until very recently, there were two types of divorce in Maryland: limited divorce, which was similar to a legal separation; and absolute divorce, which legally terminated a marriage. Absolute divorce is what most people think of when they think of divorce. Effective October 1, 2023, the Maryland legislature abolished limited divorce in the state.

The same law that eliminated limited divorce also significantly changed the grounds for divorce in Maryland. “Grounds” are what we refer to as “legally good enough reasons” to divorce. Prior to October 1, 2023, people in Maryland had the option of fault-based grounds for divorce, such as alleging adultery, cruelty, or desertion. Under the updated law, people filing for divorce in Maryland must allege one of three no-fault grounds for divorce:

  • The couple has lived separate and apart for six months. The couple may continue to reside under the same roof during the six-month period so long as they “have pursued separate lives.” Previously, couples whose divorce was based on this ground were required to live separately for 12 months, and could not reside in the same home during that time.
  • Irreconcilable differences based on the reasons stated in the divorce complaint by the spouse who filed it (the complainant). This is a new ground for divorce in Maryland as of October 1, 2023.
  • Mutual consent. Couples who have signed a written agreement outlining all terms of their divorce and meet other legal requirements are eligible for a mutual consent divorce.

The net effect of the recent changes to Maryland divorce law is to make it easier and often more cost-effective for Maryland couples who need a divorce to get one. Although it is no longer necessary to allege fault as a basis for a divorce in Maryland, that doesn’t mean fault is irrelevant. Fault can still have an impact on the resolution of issues within your divorce, such as child custody and alimony. Accordingly, it is still essential to discuss any misconduct by your spouse with your divorce attorney.

There are multiple ways to resolve the issues arising out of your marriage. The vast majority of divorces are resolved by cooperative settlement. That settlement may be reached by negotiation directly between you and your spouse or through your divorce attorneys, by discussion in mediation, or by way of a process known as Collaborative Divorce. If attempts to reach a settlement are unsuccessful, your divorce will go to trial, and a judge will ultimately make a decision based on the testimony and other evidence presented during a trial.

How Our Maryland Divorce Attorneys Can Help

One of the first decisions you will make during your divorce is which lawyer with whom to work. Your choice of attorney will affect not only the outcome of your divorce, but your experience during the process. All divorce clients are unique and so are all divorce attorneys. Here are some of the traits that set the Maryland divorce attorneys at Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield apart.

  • We are tested and experienced. In law, there is simply no substitute for experience. Our attorneys each have decades of experience practicing exclusively in the area of family law. We have handled hundreds of divorces, including those with complex financial and child custody issues.
  • We are team-oriented in our approach. Each of our divorce attorneys brings different strengths and insight to the table. We work together so that our clients receive the benefits of each attorney’s unique skill set and vast experience.
  • We are versatile. Because most divorce cases will ultimately settle, many divorce attorneys lack time-tested courtroom experience. That is not the case with our attorneys. We are all experienced litigators and because we are at ease and skilled in the courtroom, we have the leverage to reach even more favorable results for our clients.
  • We are tactical. Because we have a thorough understanding of the legal landscape both inside and outside of the courtroom, we can maneuver, and outmaneuver, our opponents skillfully—often in a way that opponents never expect.
  • We are compassionate. Even as we strategize to achieve the best possible outcome in your situation, we never lose sight of the fact that our work impacts real people, children, and entire lives. We are committed to helping our clients through the emotional challenges of divorce in addition to the legal ones.
  • We are modern. Our Maryland divorce attorneys are cutting-edge and up-to-speed on ever-evolving family law issues, and we make use of the latest technology to manage cases effectively and efficiently and be responsive to our clients’ needs.

We invite you to contact Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield to schedule a consultation to discuss your individual situation and learn how our Maryland divorce attorneys can help you during every stage of the divorce process.