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What is a residency requirement?

A residency requirement is a rule that states at least one person in a marriage must currently live in Maryland when filing for a divorce in that state. One or both partners may live in Maryland when the initial petition is filed. If neither spouse lives in Maryland but they want to end their marriage, the partners cannot file for divorce in Maryland until they have lived here for the requisite time.

Why are residency requirements necessary?

Residency rules are used to verify that one or both spouses have been living in the state of Maryland for a certain amount of time. Each party may be asked to provide documents that can confirm their state residency. If this information is not presented or state residency can’t be proven, it’s possible that the judge presiding over the case could dismiss or reject the divorce request.

Do I need to live in Maryland to file for a divorce in that state?

The residency requirements vary depending on the location where the grounds given for filing for divorce happened. If the grounds occurred in the state of Maryland, the petitioner must be a Maryland resident when filing the initial complaint. If the grounds for divorce happened outside of Maryland, then the petitioner or their spouse must have lived in Maryland for at least six months or more before the divorce complaint was filed. After the complaint has been made, the plaintiff (the person filing for divorce) can relocate to any state or country that they wish. However, that decision may have ramifications to the case.

If a person does decide to file for divorce, they can do so in the circuit court that’s located in the county that they live in. Divorce may also be filed in another county in Maryland, so long as that county is one that the defendant owns a business in or is employed in on a regular basis. They may need to prove those employment or company ownership claims when submitting their paperwork.

How can I confirm my Maryland state residency?

The person making the divorce complaint must list how long they have been a Maryland resident on the complaint form. Their voting district and city and county of residence can be used to confirm residency. The court can also factor in where the defendant (the person making the initial complaint) does their personal banking, pays taxes, has their personal possessions and the state that the person’s driver’s license was issued in.

Defendants can provide a W-2 income tax form, recent bank statements or their driver’s license to prove that they currently live in Maryland. If the case goes to trial, they may also have their employer, friends, relatives or neighbors testify on their behalf. These witnesses may confirm to the court that the person does indeed live in Maryland and was a resident of the state at the time that they decided to ask for a divorce.

Can I live outside of Maryland and file for divorce?

People can live outside of Maryland and still file for divorce in Maryland or if the reasons for the divorce request happened outside the current state. However, the petitioner must have lived in Maryland for 6 months or more before they can file for divorce. A person cannot file for divorce in Maryland if they don’t meet that minimum residency requirement and if the grounds for divorce occurred outside of the state.

Do I need to live in Maryland to respond to a divorce request in that state?

People can be served with divorce papers by their former partner who currently lives in Maryland, even if they themselves don’t live in the same state at the time. It’s not uncommon for people to move to another state or country after separating from their partner. There are many reasons why this happens. Where a person lives can determine how much time they have to reply to the divorce complaint.

How long do I have to respond to divorce papers?

If you live in the state of Maryland, you have 30 days to respond from the date when you were first served with divorce papers. Papers are usually served by a sheriff or other similar government official. That time is extended to 60 days if the respondent lives in a different state and up to 90 days if they reside in another nation.

It’s a good idea to read the divorce paperwork carefully. You may opt to dispute the divorce if you wish. Failure to reply to the divorce papers could result in the judge issuing a default judgment on the plaintiff’s behalf.

What if I’m currently enlisted in the military?

If you lived in Maryland before going into the armed forces, you can still file for divorce in Maryland. You don’t have to reside in Maryland after entering the service to make this request, either.

It’s a good idea to keep paperwork on file that can confirm your state residency in the event of a divorce. A few examples are the deed to your home, your rental agreement if you live in an apartment, pay stubs, bank statements and income tax forms. You may want to make copies if those documents are needed during court proceedings. Keep those items in a safe place.

Divorce can be complicated, especially if spouses are having difficulties determining living arrangements, child visitation schedules, child support, alimony and other important matters. It’s never easy to end a marital union. It may seem like a failure, when in reality a divorce could be the best solution for everyone who is directly affected.

Contact us today if you have questions about residency requirements or other issues that are related to divorce. You can set up a no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced professionals. They will listen to what you have to say and make valuable recommendations for possible next steps. Our lawyers can represent you in court if you so choose.

Even if you mutually agree to getting divorced, the change will be quite an adjustment for you, your former partner, your children and even your relatives and friends. You won’t be gathering in the same home for birthdays, holidays, and other special events anymore. Divorce can be costly and stressful. However, if you’re committed to working toward a positive outcome, the efforts can be very well worth it in the long run.