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To file for divorce in Maryland, one party must be resident in Maryland. To show that you are a Maryland resident for purposes of a divorce, you must be physically living in Maryland. How long you must have lived in Maryland before filing a divorce complaint depends on where the ground for divorce occurred.
If the ground for divorce occurred in Maryland, you need only be currently living in Maryland at the time you file for divorce. If the grounds for divorce occurred outside Maryland, you or your spouse must have lived in Maryland for at least six months before filing your divorce complaint.
Read the law: Md. Code, Family Law § 7-101
How to prove residency during a divorce?
To file for divorce in Maryland, you will need to file a "divorce complaint" with the circuit court. The Maryland Courts website has divorce forms, including complaints for absolute divorce and limited divorce. You will fill in that you are a resident of Maryland. You should also state how long (how many years, months, etc.) you have been a resident here in Maryland. Two important factors to prove your residence are (1) where you actually live and (2) where you vote. Courts will also consider where you pay taxes, receive mail, where your personal belongings are, which state has issued your current driver’s license and where you bank.
During your testimony in court, you should say that you are a resident of Maryland and once again say how long you have resided in the State. Cases have been dismissed and even overturned because of improper proof of residency.
If you have been a resident of Maryland for a short period of time (less than one year), you will need to be especially careful about evidence to support your statement. Remember the court will focus on your intent to live in Maryland. Tell the judge it is your intent to remain in Maryland and support this statement with evidence. One way to do this is to have a witness. For example, you could bring your boss in to testify that your job will keep you in this state. Other types of evidence include your driver’s license, your bank statements, or W2 form.
Courts can be more strict in uncontested divorce cases. A divorce is uncontested if your spouse is not formally disputing the divorce. If your spouse is not contesting the divorce, you should bring evidence to support your statements about your residency in Maryland. You should bring a witness or other physical evidence that will help you prove your intent to remain in the State of Maryland.
What if the grounds for divorce occurred outside Maryland?
If the grounds for divorce occurred outside of Maryland (i.e., your spouse committed adultery in Virginia), you or your spouse must have resided in the state of Maryland for at least six months before filing for divorce. You will need to wait until the 6 month period has passed before you can file for a divorce in Maryland.
Read the law: Md. Code, Family Law § 7-101
Where to file?
Depending on your specific situation, you may have options. A divorce action may be filed in the circuit court of the county of residence of the plaintiff (the person starting the action) or the defendant (the person being sued for divorce). You may also be able to file for divorce in a county where the defendant is regularly employed or has a place of business.
Can I move elsewhere in Maryland after I file?
You do not have to remain at the same address to fulfill your residency requirements. You can move anywhere within Maryland. The forms do not require you to list all addresses, but you should be prepared, in the final hearing, to prove where you lived during the separation.
Can I move out of Maryland after I file?
Yes, if you or your spouse move to another state after the divorce has been filed, you may still have your case heard in Maryland as long as you or your spouse were residents in Maryland when the divorce was filed. Remember, if you are handling your divorce yourself or need to attend a divorce hearing, you will need to return to the state.
I am in the Armed Services, but I lived in Maryland before. Where should I file?
As a member of the armed services, you may file for divorce in Maryland if you established your residence in Maryland prior to entering the armed services. This is true even if you have not lived in Maryland since you entered the armed services.