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Divorce in Washington County
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Online Divorce in Washington County
Please note: OnlineDivorce.com in Washington County, Maryland, is a divorce document preparation service, not a law firm. Online Divorce is not eligible to provide legal advice. All the information below is for informational purposes only.
The fastest and easiest way to get a divorce in Washington County, Maryland, is to apply for an uncontested divorce on the ground of Mutual Consent. This ground for dissolution allows the couple to avoid a mandatory 12-month separation before filing the Complaint. However, this is suitable only for spouses who do not have minor children. If the spouses do have children of the marriage, they can arrange an uncontested dissolution after living separate and apart without cohabitation for 12 months. This option is still affordable and quick compared to a contested divorce procedure.
Regardless of the ground for dissolution, any uncontested case implies that the spouses reach an agreement concerning essential matters of their separation, such as property division, financial issues, child custody, etc. Furthermore, this arrangement must be submitted to the court in writing along with the other divorce forms.
To terminate the marriage with minimal costs, those who arrange an uncontested dissolution have the right to get a divorce in Washington County without a lawyer (DIY divorce). Still, when it comes to out-of-court negotiations or preparing legal documents, which can be rather challenging, many couples resort to efficient and cheap alternative options to reduce the stress and effort required. These options include counseling, mediation, and online divorce.
OnlineDivorce.com has already helped thousands of couples in Maryland and the other US states to prepare the required documents for their case in the shortest terms. This online service selects and fills out the legal forms, customizing them for each customer, based upon his/her answers provided during an online interview and according to Maryland Family Law and the local rules of Washington County. The company guarantees that all of the customer's personal data and financial information will remain confidential and that Washington County courts will approve the paperwork with no problems or delays.
As an online document preparation service, OnlineDivorce.com offers a reliable, secure, and affordable way to get completed printable paperwork in just two days without leaving home.
Commitment to customers
Our tools have helped over 500,000 people get a quick and stress-free divorce while saving money in the process.
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Valid grounds to get divorce in Washington County
The spouses can obtain a divorce in Washington County using either no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce.
For years, no-fault divorce was recognized in Maryland if both parties agreed to get a divorce and had lived separately for 12 months or more. However, in 2018, another official ground called Mutual Consent became valid. Mutual Consent eliminates the required waiting period for a no-fault divorce in Washington County. Still, the spouses must agree that no misconduct has been committed, sign a Marital Settlement Agreement, resolve any matters associated with children, and appear before the court at the final court hearing.
The rest of the grounds for dissolution of marriage are fault-based, so they must be proven before the court.
conviction of a felony (for at least three years, or if before filing the defendant has served 12 months of the sentence);
insanity (for at least three years of confinement in a mental institution + two years of either spouse's residency before filing);
cruel treatment toward the plaintiff or his/her child;
and vicious conduct toward the plaintiff or his/her child.
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In a divorce in Washington County with a child involved, parents are welcomed to make their own parenting plan, which includes custody arrangements, a visitation schedule, and outlines how the parental rights and liabilities should be shared between the parties. If the parents fail to reach an agreement, the court will intervene to resolve these matters.
According to the Maryland Code, Sec. 5-203, the court may award custody of a minor child to either parent or joint custody to both parents with no presumption to favor either spouse.
Judges consider numerous factors to determine what type of custody arrangement would be in the child's best interest in the particular divorce case. These factors typically include:
each parent's capacity of childcare and support;
the reputation of each parent;
financial circumstances of each parent;
age and health of the child;
the residences of each parent, including opportunities for visitation;
each parent's ability to encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent;
the parents' willingness to cooperate in making decisions about the child's life;
and other factors that may seem essential to the court.
Whether child custody is decided by the parents or by the judge, it includes legal and physical custody.
Legal custody means the decision-making power concerning the most important matters of a child's life, and physical custody means the physical care and supervision of a child.
Both legal and physical custody may be sole or shared between the parents depending on the circumstances of the case as well as the parties' wishes and capacity. Joint physical custody usually implies that the child spends some period of the year with each parent. The time may be shared precisely in half, but not necessary. The main thing is that the amount of time must be significant (more than 35% of the year, or at least 127 overnights).
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Rules for child support in Washington County
Both parents are responsible for the maintenance of their minor children.
Typically, the child's primary custodian receives child support, while the parent who does not have primary physical custody of the child has to pay child support. This order may change depending on the income of each parent or if there is a shared physical custody arrangement.
The purpose of the Maryland Child Support Guidelines is to provide the child with the same proportion of parental income and relevant standard of living as if the parents still were married.
An exact amount of child support shall be calculated based on the Income Shares Model. This means that the calculation must take into account such factors as both parents' income, the number of children, health insurance costs, alimony orders, and extraordinary medical expenses, if any.
Rules for spousal support in Washington County
In a divorce proceeding in Washington County, either party may receive alimony from the other by agreement or by court decision.
According to the Maryland Code, Sec. 11-106, when deciding whether or not it would be reasonable to award alimony in a particular case, the judge weighs certain factors, including:
the length of the marriage;
the age and health conditions of each spouse;
the ability of the spouse seeking alimony to become self-supporting;
the time necessary for the spouse seeking maintenance to find proper employment;
the standard of living during the marriage;
each spouse's contributions to the well-being of the family, including non-monetary contribution;
any agreement between the spouses;
the financial needs and resources of each spouse.
One of two types of alimony may be awarded as a result. They are:
Usually, this is a periodic payment for a fixed time. This type of alimony is designed to help the spouse with a lower income or lack of professional skills to get an education or training needed to find decent employment and achieve financial independence. Thus, in a divorce in Washington County, such an alimony order can be terminated after a set period, e.g., 18 months, 5 years, or even after 10 years.
Indefinite alimony means that an appropriate duration is hard to predict. For example, the recipient is not expected to become financially self-sufficient for some justified reason like physical disability or a significant income gap between the former spouses even after becoming self-supporting. In any case, the circumstances of each couple are considered by the court separately, as every dissolution case is unique.
Uncontested Washington County divorce with children
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Property division in Washington County
In a divorce in Washington County, even if the spouses want to divide assets out-of-court, they should know how property is divided according to the Maryland Family Law so that the Circuit Court approves their Settlement Agreement.
Maryland is part of the equitable distribution states, so all the marital property of a couple should be divided fairly. Each party's separate property is not subject to division unless it was converted into marital property, for example, by mingling joint and separate bank accounts, changing the title on premarital accounts, or changing title on real estate.
Marital property typically includes everything that was acquired by the spouses during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title. Separate property includes everything each party had before the wedding, and also, their personal gifts and inheritances regardless of when they got them.
Circuit Court determines what division can be called equitable on a case-by-case basis. Although, the parties usually get more or less equal shares of the property, their shares may vary significantly on certain occasions.
the amount of separate property owned by the parties;
the relative ability of the parties to acquire property in the future;
the financial needs and liabilities of the spouses;
each spouse's contribution to the earning power of the other party;
the contribution to the value of the property (both marital and separate);
each spouse's financial resources;
the tax consequences;
and any other factors the judge considers appropriate.
Mediation support in Washington County
When getting a divorce in Washington County, Maryland, the spouses may resort to mediation.
Mediation is an alternative method of dispute resolution which implies that the spouses do not compete but cooperate to make a Settlement Agreement or Parenting Plan. In other words, mediation is used to reach an agreement concerning essential terms of the separation to avoid a divorce trial.
Although mediation is a non-binding process in Maryland, in cases involving custody issues, mediation is often required unless there is any history of domestic violence and abuse.
Besides this, the divorcing parents may be ordered to take Parenting Class. This is an educational seminar aimed to help the spouses to deal with the emotional effects of dissolution on children and other issues co-parents may face.
How to file for divorce in Washington County | Step-by-Step
To file for divorce in Washington County, the spouses have to meet the Maryland residency requirements. Pursuant to Maryland Code, Sec. 7-101, if the grounds for divorce occurred outside of the state, at least one of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least one year before filing for divorce in Washington County. If the grounds for divorce occurred within the state, the filing spouse must currently live in the state of Maryland.
To start the divorce process on your own, the plaintiff should complete the required divorce papers and file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce (the petition) with the Circuit Court, following the Maryland Courts self-help guide. Those who strive to go through the filing process as fast as possible can use OnlineDivorce.com in Washington County.
At the same time as filing, the plaintiff will have to pay a court filing fee so that the legal process can start.th ch
The next step is choosing how to serve the other spouse with a copy of the Complaint and Summons in order to notify him/her about the lawsuit. In Washington County, Maryland, the procedure of serving divorce papers can be accomplished by:
- any person over the age of 18, who is not a party of the case;
- the county sheriff's service (an additional fee is charged);
- or a private process server (an additional fee is charged).
Regardless of the chosen method, the server has to provide proof of service by filing a special affidavit. If the plaintiff cannot locate the defendant, he or she has the right to ask for an alternative method of service, for example, service by publication, and in some cases, seek a default judgment.
Once the defendant is served with the documents, he/she has 30 days to file a response. This period may be prolonged up to 60 days if the defendant lives out-of-state. The Answer to Complaint form allows the defendant to admit or deny the provisions contained in the petition.
After receiving a response, the court can schedule the final hearing. A no-fault dissolution of marriage implies that both parties must attend the hearing.
Offline and inconvenient process with attorney representation for each spouse. Costly attorney
fees resulting in unforeseen expenditures. Lengthy and expensive option.
Attorney availability impacts completion time
Each spouse has to hire an attorney, which automatically doubles legal costs
Potential court battles add to the already high-stress levels
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Filing fees for divorce in Washington County
Many factors affect how much a divorce will cost in Washington County, so the exact cost cannot be predicted even for a specific case. Proceeding with litigation can be very costly, while the most inexpensive way to arrange the process is a do-it-yourself divorce without a lawyer.
Whether contested or uncontested, each dissolution case includes paying filing fees to the court. In Maryland, the fees are about $215. Additional common costs include fees for service of process and for the Parenting Class. A court filing fee is mandatory for all plaintiffs except those who are qualified to waive it due to indigency.
Request for Waiver of Prepaid Costs is required to be submitted along with the initial divorce forms. The court may order to pay the court fees at the end of the case (and the plaintiff can ask for a final fee waiver then) or oblige the other party to pay this cost.
How long will it take?
On average, once the required legal forms are filed with the court, it takes 30 to 90 days to finalize a divorce in Washington County if both parties agree not to contest the case.
However, the length of a particular divorce process may vary depending on the spouses' ability to write up a Settlement Agreement, the caseload of the court, and the availability of judges to issue a divorce decree.
Filing for divorce in Washington County | Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a divorce cost in Washington County? The cost of any dissolution starts with a court filing fee. In general, the spouses can only limit themselves to paying only this fee, by filing for dissolution on their own, without any legal representatives. However, this cheap option is not always available, even in amicable cases of uncontested dissolution. Legal forms, as well as negotiation with the ex-partner, can be tricky, so the spouses often seek some help. As for attorney fees in Maryland, they are about $1,500 per uncontested case or between $250 and $350 per hour. Based on this, it is no wonder that online document preparation services, mediation, counseling, and other inexpensive alternatives are gaining popularity.
How do you file for divorce in Washington County without a lawyer? In Washington County, the spouses have the right to represent themselves before the court. If the case is uncontested and the spouses reach an agreement on the essential terms of their separation, they may complete the forms without any assistance using self-help offered on Maryland Court website or by using OnlineDivorce.com.
What forms are required for an uncontested divorce in Washington County? Some of the most common legal forms required when getting a divorce in Maryland include:
Complaint for Absolute Divorce, or Complaint for Limited Divorce
Civil-Domestic Case Information Report
Affidavit of Service
Answer to Complaint/Petition/Motion
Joint Statement of Parties Concerning Marital and Non-Marital Property
Joint Request to Schedule an Uncontested Divorce Hearing
Report of Absolute Divorce or Annulment of Marriage
Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
Can I file for legal separation in Washington County, Maryland? Maryland Family Law recognizes a procedure for legal separation as an alternative to the dissolution of marriage. A legal separation is a court order that allows a couple to live separately and apart and allocate the rights and obligations the same way as a divorced couple but remain legally married.
When is it allowed to remarry after a divorce? Maryland Family Law does not require any waiting period to remarry after dissolution is final. Once the judge signs the judgment of absolute divorce, either party is eligible to enter into a new marriage.
Divorce in Washington County online
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Here is how OnlineDivorce.com makes completing divorce papers easier:
We provide the full divorce packet required by the local court - clients do not need to drive to their local courthouse to get the blank forms or search for the right divorce forms online. In rare cases, local county forms can vary in color, paper material, size, or bar code, so they may need to be obtained directly from the county clerk's office.
We complete the necessary forms for clients based on their answers given in a simple guided online interview - clients do not need to understand family law or read through complicated instructions to figure out how to fill out the forms themselves.
We give detailed, easy to follow step-by-step instructions for filing a divorce with the court - so the client knows exactly what to do to get his/her divorce finalized.
We provide unlimited technical support - if a client needs assistance through the online process, he/she can always reach out to us via phone, email, or live chat, and we'll do our best to help.
We save our clients time and money - if divorcing spouses agree regarding the terms of their divorce, they typically don’t have to pay thousands to a lawyer to handle their divorce forms and don't need to spend hours trying to do it all by themselves.
We guarantee 100% court approval on divorce papers prepared through our website or your money back - we have 21 years of experience in completing divorce forms so clients can be sure the court will accept their documents without issues.
Divorce Courts in Washington County, Maryland
Washington County Circuit Court
M. Kenneth Long, Jr.
Donald E. Beachley
Daniel P. Dwyer
Dana Moylan Wright
Viki M. Pauler
Dennis J. Weaver
24 Summit Avenue, Hagerstown, Maryland 21740
(301) 733 8660
(301) 791 1151
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m
There is metered parking, $.25/hour with a two hour limit, on the street in the courthouse area.
With a contested divorce, spouses will have to go through numerous steps before the divorce is finalized, including:
prepare, file, and serve (deliver) the divorce petition
respond to the petition
interview and hire an attorney
pre-trial legal motions and hearings
settlement proposals and negotiations between attorneys
if settlement fails, prepare for and complete a court trial
appeal, if you dispute the trial judge’s decision(s)
Prepare to pay exorbitant attorney's fees - at least $2000-3000 depending on your case’s complexity.
Hourly rates vary with different attorneys and average $250-300 per hour. In rural areas, attorneys
may charge less. However, if you live in a large city, local attorneys may charge up to $1000 per hour.
At first glance, using such sites may look like an easy way to go, but it may turn into additional
headaches for you. Some of the issues you may experience when dealing with basic online divorce
long processing times - do you like waiting?
inexperienced and poorly-trained customer support
not user-friendly technology
lack of guidance during the process
hidden fees, e.g., for any, even the simplest, revisions
outdated divorce forms causing court rejection
Did you know that some online divorce providers have virtual addresses in the US because they are
based in other countries? No wonder some clients are provided with outdated divorce forms that will
be rejected by the court. The result? Those people lose their time and money because these
unprofessional services do not keep their state forms up-to-date.
Beware of fake reviews: with no experience and lack of quality service, some sites post reviews by non-existent "customers".
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