“5” Things to Know About Separation & Divorce in Montgomery County

There are far more than five things to know about separation and divorce in Montgomery County, Maryland, but here’s some information to get you started:

1. What are the rules about separating before divorce?

Separation generally means that you are not living under the same roof and are not having sexual intercourse with your spouse. The separation time required varies depending on the grounds for the divorce. You may be able to file immediately in cases of adultery or cruelty, or may need to be separated for up to two years. Each case is unique. In addition to our depth of experience in litigating domestic issues, our attorneys are also experienced in mediation, both in advising clients throughout that process and serving as mediators. Our professionals also practice in the increasingly popular process of collaborative law. 

2. What are the grounds for divorce?

Mutual and voluntary separation for one year,, separation for two years (if not mutually voluntary), adultery, cruelty of treatment, excessively vicious conduct, desertion (or constructive desertion), conviction of a crime and jail or insanity. To get a divorce in Maryland, your or your spouse must have lived in Maryland for at least the year immediately before the court action is filed, or the grounds must have occurred in the state.

3. How do I get custody of my children?

There are two different types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody involves the right to make major decisions about your child’s welfare, like decisions relating to medical care, religion, and education. Physical custody refers to where the children live and when they are with each parent. Both types of custody can be shared. You and your attorney will decide how to proceed based on your wishes and the best interests of your children.

4. How much does a divorce cost?

This depends almost entirely on how you and your spouse choose to resolve your differences. Often people see the options as “working it out” if you get along pretty well, or “take no prisoners” litigation. In fact, even people with strong disagreements can opt for less-expensive alternatives to litigation.

5. What’s the process?

If you have no major financial or custody issues, and you have been separated for at least 12 months by mutual agreement, you and your spouse may be able to represent yourselves. See the resource below on self-representation. If you think you may need an attorney, or if you’d like an outside opinion, you may want to have an initial meeting with an attorney to discuss your goals. An attorney can counsel you on your options. If you decide to go forward, you may choose negotiation (your lawyer negotiates with your spouse’s lawyer), mediation (a neutral party works with you, your spouse, and/or your respective attorneys), the collaborative process (a team process) or litigation (going to court).

Besides custody and grounds for divorce, and what process you will want to use, other things to consider are child support, property division and alimony, or considering a prenuptial agreement if you are planning to marry.

Click here to learn how we approach separation and divorce and for links to our Family Law attorneys.