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Understanding Divorce Cases

Types of Divorces

Maryland law recognizes two types of divorce: Absolute Divorce and Limited Divorce.

When the Court orders an Absolute Divorce, the divorce is permanent and final. In addition to restoring the parties to single status, the Court will issue orders for custody and visitation of the minor children of the marriage, child support, spousal support, alimony, and confirm or divide community and separate property assets and debts.

A Limited Divorce is judicial recognition that the parties are separated, although still married. The Court can issue orders regarding child custody, visitation, and spousal and child support, but it cannot determine or divide marital property in a Limited Divorce. A Limited Divorce may be terminated by the parties, who are then free to resume their marital relationship, or can be converted to an Absolute Divorce, thereby ending the marital relationship once and for all.

Maryland courts may grant a Limited Divorce even if you are seeking an Absolute Divorce.

NOTE:You are not required to get a Limited Divorce before you can get an Absolute Divorce.

People's Law Library of Maryland - Divorce Law Information

If the grounds for divorce is disputed, a Judge or Magistrate will be required to resolve the dispute. This is known as a contested divorce. A contested divorce may involve complex issues, and it is best to consult with an attorney who can assist you in presenting your case to the Court.

In an uncontested divorce, all issues arising of the marriage are resolved and agreed to between the parties.

Maryland Rules of Procedure, Title 9. Family Law Actions, Chapter 200; Maryland Code, Family Law, Titles 7 and 8.

Basic Steps in Divorce Cases

Once you have considered all the topics involving family cases, and you or your attorney has taken steps to file a family case, the opposing party (the party you "served") will have to file an Answer in order for the case to proceed. However, when a couple is in full agreement about the dissolution of their marriage and other issues, such as child custody, access and visitation, division of properties, and alimony, etc. (or no such issues exist), the Complaint and an Answer may be filed together.

At an early stage of court proceedings, the Court assesses the case, determines which services offered by the Court are appropriate, and establishes the case schedule. At a divorce hearing, a judge will either approve the arrangements that the couple already agreed upon, or, based on the facts presented, deliver an order regarding each issue brought forth in the case.

Divorce Filing Fees

$165.00 cash, money order, or check (payable to the "Clerk of Court"). No credit cards accepted.

Divorce Forms and Self-Help Packets

Divorce forms are available at the Circuit Court Family Department or the Maryland Judiciary website. Be sure to file all forms with the Family Department.

The Family Department maintains copies of the following forms:

  • Packet #8: Complaint for Divorce-Absolute or Limited (includes custody, visitation, and support)
  • Packet #8A: Uncontested Absolute Divorce (no property, no children, no alimony, or a signed Separation Agreement exists that addresses these issues)
  • Packet #9: Answer to Complaint/Petition/Motion
  • Packet #10: Answer to Complaint/Petition/Motion with Divorce Counterclaim
Download the Joint Request to Schedule an Uncontested Divorce (PDF)
Download the Joint Request to Schedule an Uncontested Divorce on the Grounds of Mutual Consent (PDF)
Download the How to File…Mutual Consent Divorce brochure (PDF):
  • The first in a series of "Fast Facts" tri-fold brochures that guide parties through divorce, from explaining the law and its requirements, to providing step-by-step instructions for how to file papers.

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