When clients tell me they want a Divorce, I usually tell them what they really want is a Divorce Agreement (also called a Separation Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement) for the following reasons.
Before you can even file a Divorce Complaint, one spouse has to be a resident for a year in Maryland or, if the grounds for Divorce arose in Maryland then one spouse has to be a resident at the time of filing. Itís six months in Virginia and DC. There is no residency requirement for a Divorce Agreement.
You have to have grounds, or reasons for a divorce, before you can file a Divorce Complaint. But you can have a Divorce Agreement even if you donít have grounds for divorce yet.
No-fault Divorces require a period of separation first. You can have a Divorce Agreement even if you are still living together.
A Divorce Trial can cost $20,000 or more. You can get a Divorce Agreement for $5,000 or less.
It might be a year or more before you have a Divorce Trial, and thatís after you file your Divorce Complaint. You can have a Divorce Agreement today.
The actual Divorce Trial itself can last a day or a couple of weeks. But if you have a Divorce Agreement, then an Uncontested Divorce Hearing takes about 20 minutes.
A Divorce Court Judge has certain limitations in what he or she can order placed in the Divorce Law by the Legislature. You are not restricted by these Divorce Laws in a Divorce Agreement.
A Divorce Decree might be a page or two and leave many questions unanswered. But a Divorce Agreement can be as long as you want and cover every detail.
In a Divorce Trial, a Divorce Judge will make the decisions for you, and he or she is a stranger to your marriage. You can control the outcome with a Divorce Agreement.
A Divorce Trial is public and some of the information about your divorce is available on the Internet. A Divorce Agreement can be kept confidential.
Your spouse can appeal a Divorce Trial, but not a Divorce Agreement.
In fact a Divorce Agreement can give you almost everything a Divorce Trial can give you, except an order dividing pension plans ("QDRO") and the right to remarry. A Divorce Trial is the course of last resort, only when you and your spouse cannot reach a Divorce Agreement.