Advertisement

Legal Matters: Getting a divorce always takes longer than getting married

"It took me 15 minutes to get married and more than a year to get divorced," an ex-husband recently remarked.

Technically, if you count Maryland's two-day waiting period after issuance of a marriage license, it really took 48 hours and 15 minutes to get married, but that is far less time than a man and woman must invest to obtain even an uncontested divorce. Also far less expense - marriage license application fees vary by county, but in Carroll, the charge is $35.

Advertisement

The law governing marriage and divorce seems to be based on rope. If you take a length of rope, it will probably take only a minute to tie it in a knot, but it will take perhaps two or three times as long to untie it.

Suppose you and your husband decide the marriage isn't working out, and you just want to end it. The two of you agree that he will leave the home and neither wants to contest the divorce. An uncontested divorce means you're not asking the judge to decide who gets custody of the children or who gets the 300 shares of Apple, Inc. stock.

If you and your spouse are able to resolve the issues and reduce your decisions to a written agreement, congratulations on a mature handling of your separation. But you will still have to remain separated for 365 days before you can file suit asking for a divorce.

You can submit your agreement to be filed with the divorce complaint. The plaintiff, the spouse who filed the complaint, must attend a hearing and testify.

Why, when both of you know it's over between you and you have an agreement for custody, child support and property?

Because there are certain legal requirements you have to meet before a judge can decree a divorce. The defendant, the other spouse, must know about the hearing, but is not required to attend.

The hearing will be before a master, who cannot decree a divorce but can recommend to the judge that you be granted a divorce, based on the evidence you present. Barring an unusual circumstance, the judge will accept the master's recommendation and grant your divorce.

You must present evidence at the master's hearing to show you meet the legal criteria for divorce. In an uncontested divorce, you must testify that you and your spouse have lived apart for a full year without sexual relations with each other, that you separated with the intent of ending the marriage, that there is no hope of reconciliation and that your spouse is not on active duty with the military. A court can delay divorce proceedings for military service members on active duty.

You will also need to bring a witness who knows both of you, knows of your separation and can testify whether he saw any evidence the two of you had resumed living together during the separation period.

Advertisement
Advertisement