Divorce can be an uneasy feeling for Maryland couples, especially when a lot is at stake. A high asset divorce is typically more complicated than one in which very few assets are involved. No two divorces are the same, and the entire divorce can take anywhere from several months to several years. However, the overall process is generally the same. A divorce will generally follow the steps outlined below.
One spouse will initiate the divorce by choosing a lawyer and having him or her write a petition, or complaint. This complaint will discuss why he or she is asking for a divorce and how he or she plans to settle issues such as child custody, finances and asset division. The petition is then filed with the court and served, with a summons, to the other spouse.
The spouse must respond within three weeks or so, or else it will be assumed that he or she agrees with the petition. If both spouses agree with the decision to divorce, they will then provide information about income and assets. The court then uses this information to make decisions about asset division, as well as alimony and child support, if applicable.
Most couples settle the terms of their divorce outside of court. They may arrive at a settlement on their own or use mediation to negotiate issues. A judge will review the settlement agreement at a hearing and ask the spouses to sign it. The judge will then approve it and issue a divorce decree. This document outlines what each spouse has agreed to.
If no settlement has been reached, the divorce goes to trial. The spouses' lawyers argue their cases and leave the decisions to the judge. The divorce is then granted.
A divorce can be civil or nasty, based on the spouses' level of cooperation. The more the spouses can agree, the smoother the process will be.
Source: FindLaw, "A Divorce Timeline," accessed Sept. 27, 2014