Mutual Consent Divorce

If you are facing a divorce in Maryland and your spouse is not contesting it, but you are still living together, you may be able to file for a divorce without the usual requirement of first separating for a year.  Up until recently, in order for a Maryland court to grant a married couple an uncontested divorce, the couple had to live separate and apart for 365 consecutive days prior to filing for divorce.  For many couples, this separation period can unnecessarily draw out the divorce process and make it more stressful.  Many divorcing couples do not want to incur the expense of a second home before they have sorted out property and support issues and know what their resources will be in the future.  

In 2015, Maryland created a new ground for getting an uncontested divorce.  This new type of divorce is called a “mutual consent” divorce, and sometimes by the informal "quickie divorce."  A mutual consent divorce does not require you and your spouse to be separated for any period of time prior to filing for the divorce, as long as you meet certain requirements.  You and your spouse may qualify for a mutual consent divorce if:

1. You and your spouse have no minor children in common (this is true even if issues regarding the custody and support of your child(ren) are uncontested);

2. You and your spouse have signed a Marital Settlement Agreement (this is a legally binding agreement resolving alimony and property division); 

3. Neither you nor your spouse asks the court to set aside the Marital Settlement Agreement prior to the divorce hearing; and

4. You and your spouse appear at the uncontested divorce hearing.

This new law means that if you meet the above criteria, you can divorce without the one-year separation period.  It also means that you can stay living in the same residence while you and your spouse negotiate the terms of your Marital Separation Agreement (requirement #2 above).  This reduces the cost of securing your divorce because you will not be forced to pay for an additional residence, and the expenses that go along with it, during this transition period.  

If you meet the above criteria and wish to file for a “mutual consent” divorce in Maryland, you can use Form CC-DR-020, available here.  The instructions provided by the Maryland Courts for filling out that form are available here.   

If you would like to file for a “mutual consent” divorce but are not able to complete the forms yourself, or would like to speak with an attorney about negotiating and/or drafting the required Marital Settlement Agreement, Civil Justice’s Limited Scope Project may be a good fit for you.  When an attorney agrees to provide you with limited scope representation, it means that the attorney will do certain things for you, but will not take on all of the responsibility for your case.  Civil Justice has a group of private Maryland attorneys who can provide limited scope assistance for any number of tasks associated with getting a mutual consent divorce.  For example, the attorney can provide limited scope assistance with negotiating and/or drafting the required  Marital Settlement Agreement.  This agreement must be reached and executed prior to filing for a mutual consent divorce.  The attorney can also provide limited scope assistance in preparing the complaint for divorce.  These discrete tasks can be done by the attorney on a limited scope basis, without the need to charge you for representing you all the way through the litigation.  The cost for negotiating and drafting a Marital Settlement Agreement is generally between $400 and $800.  The cost of preparing a complaint for divorce is generally between $200 and $500.  If you are interested in these services, please fill out our online intake form here, or call us at 410 706-0174.   

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