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Many times a case will start out as a contested divorce and, as it moves through the court process, the parties agree on all the various issues before trial - often called a settlement. At this point, the divorce then becomes uncontested. For more information on settlement agreements, including what they are and what they are not, see our page on Marital Settlement Agreements. There is only one entity in each jurisdiction that can actually grant a divorce, which is the applicable court prescribed by statute to handle divorce cases.
But in all cases, there must be a ground, or reason, for the divorce. For more information, including the various waiting periods for a no fault divorce and what must be proven for a fault divorce, see Grounds for Divorce in Maryland. If the parties are in fact living separate and apart as defined by law, then they are legally separated for the purposes of filing for divorce. If someone really wants a piece of paper signed by a Judge, however, there are certain proceedings that will result in what many people think of as a legal separation.
For more information, including how to distinguish between desertion and separation, see Legal Separation in Maryland. Although a divorce case can take many complicated twists and turns, the process itself is relatively predictable. Before someone files for divorce, either or both parties often engage in trying to resolve the various issues arising out of their separation. Sometimes, the entire case can be resolved before filing. Once a ground for divorce exists, one spouse may choose to file for divorce at the courthouse.
The divorce case follows a pattern set by the local rules of the jurisdiction where it is filed, but usually starts with a scheduling hearing and ends with a divorce trial.
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In between those two court dates, the attorneys and parties can gather information about some or all of the relevant issues, and try to resolve them. One or both parties can apply to the court for temporary relief, such as alimony or child support to be paid while the case is pending.
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For more information, including how courts determine alimony and spousal support, alimony and spousal support guidelines, and the tax consequences of alimony and spousal support, see Alimony in Maryland. What happens if someone needs help while the divorce case is moving through the court process, but before a final decision is made, either by agreement or a decision by the Judge?
A party can ask the court to award temporary assistance to help get through the period from the start of the divorce case to the end of the divorce case. For more information, including the distinction between marital and separate property, and how the court decides how to divide property, see Equitable Distribution in Maryland.
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The marital home, where the parties live or lived prior to their separation, is often the most valuable property to address in a divorce. The parties have various options regarding how to deal with the marital home. Perhaps they should sell the marital home and spit the proceeds. Maybe one spouse wants to buy out the other, refinance the loan, and keep the marital home. Good to Know : This is a nonprofit legal agency serving low-income, children, and elderly residents of Maryland.
There is no fee for legal services if you qualify. Eligible clients are matched with a volunteer lawyer. Good to Know : MDVLA provides free or reduced fee legal assistance to arts organizations and visual, performing and literary artists.
Clients must meet certain income requirements to qualify for representation, and there is a small administrative fee. Good to Know : Legal services are available to low-income African Americans and other minority groups.
Good to Know : DAP is a legal clinic that provides debtors with an opportunity to meet, one-on-one, with a volunteer bankruptcy attorney for a free half-hour consultation. The DAP provides legal advice to individuals without an attorney by answering their questions about bankruptcy, including how bankruptcy may be used to help prevent foreclosure. Good to Know : This office provides free legal assistance to disabled persons regardless of income.
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