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Man filling out divorce paperwork

By Mary Ellen Flynn, Esq.

In Maryland, you may obtain a divorce by filing in court based upon contested or uncontested grounds. A contested divorce means the parties are not in agreement at the time of filing and are requesting a judge to make a decision on the issues between them.  An uncontested divorce means that the parties have reached an agreement, and the judge is using what the parties have decided will happen rather than the judge making the decision. To obtain an uncontested divorce, the parties must reach a settlement on all issues between them. This includes spousal support, division of all marital property and debts, custody and visitation, as well as child support.

One benefit of an uncontested divorce is the length it will take you to be divorced. Once uncontested divorce pleadings are filed in court, it typically takes 2- 3 months to be divorced. In a contested divorce, once pleadings are filed in court by one party seeking divorce, it can take over a year before you are divorced.

One of the first steps after filing in court for a contested divorce is to enter into discovery. Discovery requires the exchange of documents and information, depositions of the parties, retaining and deposing expert witness, as well as following up with other witnesses that would testify on behalf of either party. Many Maryland courts will also order the parties to attend mediation to make good faith efforts to reach an agreement.  Even if you are unable to reach an agreement on all issues between you, partial settlement agreements are also beneficial.

Reaching a settlement early on in your divorce can be a huge benefit because you will save on litigation costs eliminating the need for preparing and attending hearings and trials. Another way an uncontested divorce can save you time and money is because there will never be an appeal. When the parties reach an agreement, neither can appeal what they have mutually agreed to.

While reaching a settlement and obtaining an uncontested divorce can be a benefit and may seem ideal, there are many instances when one party is forced into seeking a contested divorce. A party may have to file for a contested divorce if their spouse is being unreasonable and not willing to discuss mutually agreeable settlement terms. Sometimes one party is manipulative, controlling or abusive.

Regardless of whether you are seeking an uncontested or contested divorce, our family law attorneys are experienced in working with you to obtain a mutually acceptable settlement, allowing you to move forward with your life. Even when you must file for divorce on contested grounds, you don’t have to feel like lengthy and costly litigation is your only option. Our attorneys are skilled and have experience in getting the parties to settle as many issues between them as they can to save you time and money.

Before agreeing and signing any settlement agreement, we always recommend you obtain legal advice so that you are aware of what you are agreeing to and the impact that agreement can have on you now and in the future. Are you going through a divorce? Take the next step by contacting me today.

About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Andalman & Flynn, P.C. serves clients throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia, offering compassionate, quality service and results-driven representation across a broad range of legal areas. With a concentration on disability benefits law and family law, the firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone, and they are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit our website or call 301.563.6685.