Work With an Uncontested Divorce Attorney in Maryland if You and Your Spouse Can Agree on All Relevant Issues Before You File for Divorce
Do you and your spouse already agree regarding decisions related to your post-divorce lives? Are you both seeking to avoid the conflicts, drama, costs, and delays associated with adversarial divorces? Are you ready to confidently take steps forward into your new future, building on your shared agreements regarding divorce terms? If so, you should speak with an experienced Maryland uncontested divorce attorney. An uncontested divorce in Maryland is a type of divorce where both spouses agree to the divorce and all its terms, allowing for a more streamlined and often quicker legal process — with resolution typically taking around two to three months from filing, as there is no need for a judge to make decisions on contested issues. Also known as a mutual consent divorce, it is one of the three grounds for no-fault divorce in Maryland.
This alternative approach strives to minimize conflicts, fostering a smoother and less adversarial journey. Separate attorneys are involved for each spouse to avoid conflicts of interest. Our founding attorney, Ellen L. Lee, draws upon her background in counseling and psychology in addition to her 35+ years practicing family law to guide our clients along the right path specific to their unique needs and goals.
Since 2015, Maryland has allowed spouses to seek uncontested divorces without long wait times or demonstration of fault. In 2023, mutual agreement became one of three grounds for no-fault absolute divorce in Maryland through SB 36, which also repealed limited divorce and fault-based grounds for divorce in Maryland. To file for an uncontested divorce, you do not need to prove fault, but you and your spouse must agree on all the issues related to your divorce and its foreseeable aftermath.
For Maryland couples to meet the requirements for mutual consent divorce, both parties must work together with their attorneys to create a written settlement agreement document addressing various marital estate matters, which typically include the required agreement on questions of spousal support, monetary awards, and property division. As applicable, questions of child custody, child support, child care, and visitation must also be agreed upon by the parties and indicated as such in the documentation your uncontested divorce attorney will prepare on your behalf. Approval from the court is essential for these agreements, which set the foundation for the next phase of your life.
Contact the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee, LLC today to schedule a consultation with our founding attorney regarding your options for uncontested divorce in Maryland.
An Uncontested Divorce Means You Have Reached Agreement On These Important Issues
For a divorce to be considered uncontested in Maryland, spouses must reach an agreement on all of the following issues:
- Agreement to Divorce: Both parties must agree that they want to end the marriage.
- Property Division and Debt Division: Spouses must agree on how to divide all marital property, which can include real estate, vehicles, household items, and financial assets like bank accounts and retirement funds. Similarly, spouses must agree on who will take responsibility for any debts incurred during the marriage.
- Alimony (Spousal Support): If applicable, spouses need to agree on whether one spouse will provide financial support to the other, and if so, the amount and duration of this support.
- Child Custody and Visitation: If the couple has minor children, they must agree on who will have custody (both legal decision-making authority and physical custody), as well as the details of visitation schedules. We can help you solidify a child custody arrangement specific to your needs and goals.
- Child Support: The couple must agree on who will pay child support for minor children, the amount to be paid, and the frequency of payments. Our law office will guide you through steps involving the child support guidelines worksheet, as needed to ensure you comprehend and agree on child support issues.
If spouses can agree on these issues with the aid of their uncontested divorce lawyers, they can proceed to file for divorce under Maryland’s mutual consent ground for no-fault divorces, often allowing them to avoid a lengthy court trial. Consequently, the uncontested divorce cost range tends to be considerably lower than other types of divorce, and the wait time before finalization of the divorce tends to be short, as well. Other types of no-fault divorce in which you and your spouse have not yet reached agreement would be considered contested divorces and could be filed based on irreconcilable differences or or living separate lives under the same roof or at different residences for six months or more. Maryland no longer accepts divorce filings on fault-based grounds.
If you are interested in considering uncontested divorce in Maryland, contact the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee, LLC today to schedule an initial consultation in which we will assess your unique situation in light of your goals for your life after divorce. We will meet you where you are in your divorce situation and begin planning your bright path forward.
Your Maryland Uncontested Divorce Attorney Will Help You Draft Your Settlement
Your uncontested divorce attorney will help you draft a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), ensuring it’s legally sound, fair, and in your interests. A Maryland uncontested divorce attorney plays a crucial role in helping you draft a settlement agreement when they seek to file for an uncontested divorce under mutual consent grounds:
- Guidance through the Process: Firstly, an attorney guides the client through the mutual consent divorce process, ensuring that their rights are protected. Because this process can be complicated, professional guidance can help prevent common pitfalls.
- Mediation Assistance: If needed, the attorney can aid in divorce mediation, which seeks to achieve an agreement where the parties themselves have control over the terms of their no-fault divorce.
- Drafting the Agreement: The primary role of the attorney is drafting a thoroughly considered, legally binding Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA is a contract between two spouses designed to resolve all issues arising out of their marriage. It sets up the couple for a mutual consent divorce by figuring out mutual compromises before heading to court.
- Negotiating Terms: The attorney also assists in negotiating the terms of the agreement. This includes division of marital property, alimony, child custody, visitation schedules, and child support.
- Ensuring Legal Compliance: Your attorney will ensure that the agreement complies with Maryland law. For example, to seek a divorce on mutual consent grounds, your written agreement signed by both parties.
What To Expect During Maryland’s Streamlined Program for Uncontested Divorce
Maryland’s streamlined program for uncontested divorce, also known as a mutual consent divorce, is designed to make the divorce process more efficient. Nevertheless, working with an experienced family law attorney can help you reach agreement on various points regarding settlement negotiations on marital assets, alimony, and other issues in order to fulfill Maryland’s no-fault grounds for divorce. If you and your spouse do not yet agree on all matters but you can both commit to working together in good faith to reach agreement, collaborative divorce may be the right path for you.
To be eligible for an uncontested divorce in Maryland, it is important that both spouses have already signed a written settlement agreement that addresses property division and alimony matters. Additionally, both spouses must have also signed an agreement that covers child custody, child support, and issues involving parenting time or visitation. It is important to ensure that neither spouse has attempted to invalidate the signed agreement before the time of the divorce hearing.
While a mutual consent divorce can be a faster route compared to a contested divorce, the timeline to finalize an uncontested divorce in Maryland can vary significantly based on several factors. Spouses can file for uncontested divorce once they have reached a Marital Separation Agreement, and the divorce usually takes between 30 to 120 days to become final. However, this timeline can change depending on the specific circumstances of the case.
The uncontested divorce hearing itself is typically brief, often taking approximately 5-10 minutes. Nevertheless, there might be a waiting period for your case to be called. Once the filing spouse receives agreement and signed papers from the other spouse, the court can move forward with finalizing the divorce.
You can expect the following steps in Maryland’s streamlined uncontested divorce process:
- Eligibility Check: First, ensure that you qualify for a mutual consent divorce. This requires that both spouses agree to the divorce and all the terms.
- Draft a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA): The couple must create a written Marital Settlement Agreement. This agreement resolves all issues arising out of the marriage such as division of marital assets, alimony, child custody, and child support.
- File for Divorce: File a Complaint for Absolute Divorce using form CC-DR-020, along with other required documents including the MSA.
- Service of Process: Serve your spouse with the divorce papers. If your spouse was served in Maryland, they have 30 days to respond.
- Court Hearing: Attend the court hearing. The judge will review your agreement to ensure it’s fair and meets the legal standards.
- Finalize the Divorce: If the judge approves your agreement, the court will issue a divorce decree, finalizing the divorce.
Potential causes of delays can include difficulties in reaching an agreement, failure to properly serve your spouse with divorce papers, missing or incorrectly completed paperwork, and court scheduling delays.
To encourage the process to proceed more efficiently, divorcing spouses should:
- Communicate openly and honestly with your attorney and your spouse during the drafting of the MSA.
- Work with your Maryland mutual consent divorce attorney to ensure all paperwork is correctly completed and filed promptly.
- Coordinate with your Maryland divorce attorney throughout the process to address any potential issues proactively.
Documentation Involved in Maryland’s Uncontested Divorce Process
Maryland’s uncontested divorce process, also known as a mutual consent divorce, is designed to be relatively straightforward. However, there are still several key steps and potential complexities that divorcing individuals and couples should be aware of. An experienced Maryland mutual consent divorce attorney will handle many of these processes on your behalf.
There are a number of documents forms to complete, review, and organize during this process:
- Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)
- Financial Statements
- Civil Domestic Information Report
- Parenting Plan and Child Support worksheets (as applicable, if you have a minor child)
- Complaint for Absolute Divorce (Form CC-DR-020)
The Form CC-DR-020 is Used Along With Your Marital Settlement Agreement to File For Divorce Under Mutual Consent in Maryland
The first step in the process is filing a Complaint for Absolute Divorce using form CC-DR-020. This form outlines the grounds for divorce, which in this case would be mutual consent.
Next, the spouses must draft a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). This document resolves all issues arising out of the marriage such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. It’s essential to draft this agreement right, as it forms the basis of the final divorce decree.
After filing the divorce papers, they must be served to the other spouse. This can be done personally or through a process server. If served in Maryland, the spouse has 30 days to respond.
At Your Maryland Uncontested Divorce Hearing
When you attend your divorce hearing, remember to bring your marriage certificate and proof of residency in Maryland. During the uncontested hearing, the judge will carefully examine the settlement agreement to ensure that neither spouse has requested to set it aside.
The judge will thoroughly review the agreement regarding the plan for child support and child custody for minor or dependent children, prioritizing their interests. If everything aligns, the family court judge may approve the settlement agreement and incorporate it into your final divorce decree.
It Can Be Very Difficult To Agree on Everything in a Divorce Agreement On Your Own, But an Experienced Maryland Uncontested Divorce Lawyer Can Help
Even when a couple agrees on most of the issues and seeks to agree on everything for a mutual consent divorce in Maryland, an uncontested divorce attorney can play a pivotal role in facilitating the process and ensuring all legal requirements are met for no-fault divorces.
Your Maryland mutual consent divorce lawyer will help you throughout the process, from negotiating terms to clarify and finalize agreements through the Marriage Settlement Agreement through managing your filing and ensuring legal compliance through the hearing stage until finalization of your divorce.
Schedule a Consultation with Ellen L. Lee, an Uncontested Divorce Attorney with Over 35 Years of Experience Practicing Family Law in Montgomery County, Maryland
With well over three decades of experience, Ellen L. Lee has committed herself to offering personal assistance to individuals and families facing the trials of divorce and associated issues. By establishing a welcoming and approachable atmosphere, she promotes effective communication and a shared goal of preparing her client to embark on a fresh start amid whatever challenges they face in family law.
If you’re seeking clarity on uncontested divorce options in Maryland, we’re here to guide you. Mutual consent is one of the no-fault grounds for divorce in Maryland, and we are prepared to help you through every step. Each client we assist is one-of-a-kind, and we make a concerted effort to delve into the nuances of your situation, grasping your concerns and goals on a personal level. By taking this approach, we’re able to champion your interests through all facets of your mutual consent divorce in Maryland.
We are prepared to conduct our initial information-gathering session with you either at our boutique office in Rockville, Maryland, through a video conference, or via telephone. We offer flexible scheduling, including evening and weekend appointments, to accommodate your requirements.
Why Choose the Law Offices of Ellen L. Lee
Ellen L. Lee has devoted over 35 years of unwavering commitment to aiding individuals and families in Montgomery County, Maryland with their family law needs. Grounded in counseling and psychology, she provides personalized guidance and assistance to her clients in an inviting atmosphere — prioritizing effective communication while forging new beginnings amidst family law disputes.
- Tenacious & Compassionate Legal Support
- Trusted Guidance that Exceeds Expectations
- Full Range of Family Law Services
- Flexible Consultation Times: Nights and Weekends are Available
- Over 35 Years of Experience Practicing Family Law in Montgomery County, Maryland
Our Founding Attorney conveniently meets with clients via phone, video conference, or in person at our office in Rockville, Maryland.