Deciding to end your marriage is one of the toughest decisions that any couple can make. The impact this choice has on your family and children could last for years, depending on how you go about your dissolution in Maryland or DC. If you or your spouse feels your union is irretrievably broken, going your separate ways may seem manageable at first. Once sensitive issues come into play, often regarding spousal support, child custody, or marital division of assets, emotional decision-making can take over and break down communication completely.
If you find yourself in the middle of a contested divorce or are considering filing for dissolution, relying on a lawyer with extensive family law knowledge is your best first step. Having a firm and knowledgeable guide can help you make the best possible decisions to achieve a divorce settlement that avoids a protracted court fight that is emotionally painful and exhausting. At The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl, we take a compassionate but firm approach to ensure your rights and best interests are protected to the fullest extent of the law.
For both Washington D.C. and Maryland, there are residency requirements in order to file for a divorce. In Washington D.C., you must have been a resident for at least one year prior to filing for divorce. In Maryland, if the grounds for divorce happened within the state, you need to only prove you are a resident, there is no time requirement. If the grounds happened outside the state, one party must be a Maryland resident for at least six months.
After confirming you meet the residency requirements, you can fill out the required paperwork. Maryland is a no-fault and fault-based divorce state, whereas Washington D.C. is a no-fault divorce state. What that means is that in Maryland, a person may divorce their spouse for no reason and get what is referred to as an “Absolute Divorce,” or they may divorce them for the harm they caused the marriage. The standards of fault-based divorces involve a spouse who has been convicted of a felony, committed adultery, desertion for at least 12 uninterrupted months, insanity, cruelty, excessively vicious conduct, and voluntary separation. Additionally, you can get a limited divorce in Maryland, which does not completely end the marriage but settles certain disputes. This can be a step toward an absolute divorce, but issues like child custody/support and alimony can be managed by a judge prior to doing so.
The significant impact that the difference between no-fault and fault-based divorces creates is the separation requirement. In Maryland, if a person wants to divorce their spouse in a no-fault divorce, they must be separated for at least two years if the separation is involuntary and one year if the separation is voluntary.
In Washington D.C., which is a no-fault jurisdiction, there are two different grounds for divorce. If the divorce is mutual and voluntary, the separation must occur without cohabitation for at least six months. The second path occurs if one party does not agree to the divorce, in that instance the separation without cohabitation must last for one year.
The timeline for a divorce ultimately rests on you and your spouse’s willingness to settle issues and come to an agreement. It is always best to avoid a drawn-out dissolution process, but this should not be more important than protecting your rights and assets in the final judgment.
Even if you make every effort to accommodate your ex-spouse’s demands reasonably, you may have no choice but to litigate the matter despite if they refuse to settle. But, if you have no children and communication is working, our divorce attorney could help negotiate the final details of a dissolution agreement that resolves all outstanding issues of the marriage. When a mutual consent divorce is possible, courts can process them much faster, minimizing your out-of-pocket costs and legal fees.
At The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl, we strive to negotiate a divorce settlement that provides you the best possible benefit without a stressful legal battle. Sometimes this is not possible, and in such cases, we will aggressively pursue your best interests and ensure that any court decision is reasonable and equitable.
While the divorce process can be emotionally painful, you and your loved ones deserve a future filled with new beginnings and healing. Our highly skilled divorce attorneys are well-practiced in family law and have the experience to consider what you need to navigate this challenging time in your life successfully. Divorce lawyer Thomas Stahl has helped countless couples settle their divorces and move on with their lives. As a recognized Super Lawyer from 2019 to 2021, he has continued to prove his commitment to helping his clients achieve divorce agreements that are effective and beneficial for their needs. Contact his firm today at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280 to schedule a consultation.