Baltimore, Annapolis, Belair & Maryland Premier Uncontested Divorce Attorney
When you work with a Maryland uncontested divorce attorney, the goal is to wrap up your marriage fairly, quickly, and inexpensively. At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, we believe that everyone benefits from an uncontested divorce. You and your spouse avoid contentious court hearings and save valuable time and money. Your children don’t experience the trauma of an extended custody battle. Moreover, we get to guide you through a less stressful and difficult transition.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse decide to set aside your differences and amicably end your marriage. You both must agree to the essential terms of your divorce and typically sign a separation agreement. The court is minimally involved — it simply reviews your paperwork, holds a brief hearing and approves the terms of your agreement. You typically pay less in attorneys’ fees, case costs, and other expenses in an uncontested divorce.
Uncontested No-Fault Divorce Involving Children
If you and your spouse have minor children, you can still file an uncontested, no-fault divorce in Baltimore, Annapolis, Bel Air, and the rest of Maryland. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse negotiate a separation agreement, setting out how you will handle:
- Alimony payments;
- Child custody and visitation;
- Child support payments;
- Property and debt division;
- Any other important matters related to your marriage.
However, there are several eligibility requirements before you file for an uncontested divorce. These requirements involve you and your spouse’s residency and the grounds for your divorce.
To file for divorce in Maryland, either you or your spouse must be a resident. If the grounds for your divorce occurred outside of Maryland, you or your spouse must be residents for at least six months before filing a divorce complaint.
No-Fault Divorce Requirements
Most uncontested divorces are no-fault divorces. (You can also file an uncontested, fault-based divorce, but this is relatively rare.) In a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse must live separately for at least 12 months before you file for divorce. While you cannot waive this waiting period, you might consider filing a limited divorce in the meantime (which does not require a 12-month separation).
Contact an uncontested divorce attorney at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates for more information about divorces involving children. We can help you craft a divorce strategy that meets you and your family’s needs.
Mutual Consent Divorce
Divorce by mutual consent is a relatively new concept in Maryland. You qualify for a mutual consent divorce if you and your spouse:
- Do not have minor children together, and;
- Can agree on alimony and property/debt division.
In a mutual consent divorce, you do not have to wait 12 months before you file for divorce. However, you still must meet Maryland’s residency requirements.
In a mutual consent divorce, your uncontested divorce attorney will draft a written separation agreement and submit it to the court. Then, you and your spouse will attend a brief court hearing. After this hearing, the terms of your separation agreement are incorporated into your divorce decree — making it legally binding. If you and your spouse qualify for a mutual consent divorce, contact us for more information. We can help you file your divorce complaint, draft a separation agreement, and successfully present it to the court.
How Do I Get an Uncontested Divorce?
Once you decide divorce is inevitable, you and your spouse must:
- Determine which county has jurisdiction over your case;
- File a divorce petition with the court;
- Serve the petition on the other party;
- Respond to the petition — indicating that the divorce is uncontested;
- Draft and sign a formal separation agreement;
- Present your separation agreement to the court.
Sometimes a divorce begins peacefully, only to become hotly contested later (and vice versa). An uncontested divorce involves a lot of negotiation and patience. While some battles are worth fighting, you sometimes must compromise for the sake of your sanity or your child’s best interests. At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, we will help you and your spouse sort of your issues fairly — either in private or in court.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce?
While you can always decide to represent yourself, it’s typically in your best interest to work with an experienced uncontested divorce attorney. Divorce involves more than completing a series of forms. You typically must decide:
- The amount and duration of alimony payments;
- How you will divide child custody, assessing the tax and other implications of this decision;
- The amount of monthly child support payments and whether to pay child support for an older child’s college-related expenses;
- The value of your assets, property, and debt and how to divide them fairly;
- Whether one spouse will have sole use of certain assets, such as a marital home;
- Divide complicated assets, such as pensions and retirement plans.
Without an uncontested divorce attorney, you might make costly mistakes. And, disagreements can quickly escalate when you are negotiating directly with your spouse. An uncontested divorce attorney can help you discuss these issues civilly and amicably — avoiding undue costs and hassle.
Consult With a Maryland Uncontested Divorce Attorney
When you work with a Maryland uncontested divorce attorney, you’re giving yourself the best chance for a quick and painless end to your marriage. At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, we help our clients peacefully and fairly resolve their issues and move on with their lives. However, if necessary, we will use our extensive litigation experience to protect your interests. Contact us for an evaluation.
If you and your spouse are on civil and amicable terms, it may be in your best interest to consider the possibility of proceeding with an Uncontested Divorce. If this is the case, you’ll still want to consult knowledgeable and experienced attorneys, and the team at James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates are on-hand to guide you through this process, as well.
An uncontested divorce simply means that both spouses agree on all the key terms of the divorce, including:
- child custody and visitation, including where your children will live;
- child support, health and dental insurance, and medical expenses for the children;
- tax deductions and exemptions;
- division of the marital assets and debts;
- any other dispute involving your marriage.
If you or your spouse disagree about any of these items, your divorce will be considered “contested” and it will have to go to trial. Maryland doesn’t have special rules or procedures for uncontested cases. However, uncontested cases move through the system much more quickly. If you and your spouse agree on all the terms of the divorce before you file, you will write a separation (settlement) agreement, and you may be done with your divorce relatively quickly.
If you can’t agree right away but you come to a total agreement, later on, it will take somewhat longer for the divorce to be finalized but the overall length will still be faster than if you’d gone through a full-blown trial.
Requirements for a Divorce in Maryland
There are a couple of preliminary rules that have to be satisfied before you can get divorced in Maryland. First, you have to give the court a “ground,” or legal reason, for the cause of the divorce. Maryland recognizes a number of fault-based grounds, including adultery, desertion, felony conviction, insanity, and cruelty to a spouse or child. However, if you select one of these grounds, you’re likely to face an argument with your spouse. There is one more option you can select: you and your spouse have been separated and haven’t lived together for 12 months. Selecting this separation option, rather than assigning fault, might work best if you and your spouse are trying to work through legal issues together.
Additionally, you have to fulfill the residency requirements. There are two possible ways to do this. If the grounds for the divorce occurred within Maryland, then there is no residency requirement except that you or your spouse are currently living in Maryland. But if the grounds for the divorce happened outside of Maryland, then you or your spouse have to have been living in Maryland for one full year before you can file for divorce.
Third, you must file your case in the circuit court that’s located in the county where either you or your spouse live, are regularly employed, or have a business.
Most people cannot properly handle a divorce without the guidance of an experienced Baltimore divorce lawyer. Divorces can quickly become emotionally charged and contentious — especially if the case involves children and significant assets (or debts). Without a lawyer, you might agree to an unfair divorce settlement or lose valuable time with your children. However, a lawyer can help you avoid a trial by negotiating a fair divorce settlement. And, if a trial is needed, a divorce lawyer will craft defenses to your spouse’s claims.
Free Consultation with a Premiere Maryland Family Law Attorney
If you’re in need of a Family Law attorney in Maryland, you might not know where to begin. Let us help you.
If you are considering a divorce, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Maryland divorce lawyer. At James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates, we have guided our clients through divorces and legal separations since 1992. We provide compassionate advice and aggressive legal representation, ensuring that our clients receive their fair share of child custody and marital property. If you are in need of a Maryland family law lawyer, contact James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates at 443-709-9999 today.