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Maryland Divorce Definitions

This collection of definitions will help clarify some unique characteristics to the Maryland Divorce laws, process and paperwork which is filed with the court.

Filing Party Title:
Plaintiff

The spouse who will initiate the Divorce by filing the required paperwork with the court.

Non-Filing Party Title:
Defendant

The spouse who does not initiate the Divorce with the court.

Court Name:
In the Circuit Court for _____________ , Maryland

The proper name of the court in which a Divorce is filed in the state of Maryland. Each jurisdictional court typically has a domestic relations or a family law department or division.

Child Support Enforcement Website:
http://www.dhr.state.md.us/csea/index.htm

The state run office devoted to enforcing existing child support orders and collecting any past due child support.

Document Introduction:
In Re the Marriage of:

The lead-in verbiage used in the legal caption or header of the documents filed with the court. The introduction typically prefaces both spouse’s names.

Initial Divorce Document:
Complaint for Absolute Divorce

The title and name of the legal document that will initiate the Maryland Divorce process. The filing spouse is also required to provide the non-filing spouse a copy of this document.

Final Divorce Document:
Judgment of Absolute Divorce

The title and name of the legal document that will finalize the Maryland Divorce process. This document will be signed by the judge, master, or referee of the court to declare your marriage officially terminated.

Clerk’s Office Name:
Office of the Clerk of the County Circuit Court

The office of the clerk that will facilitate the Divorce process. This is the title you would address letters to or ask for when contacting the courthouse.

Legal Separation:

The grounds for a legal separation (limited divorce) are: (1) willful desertion; (2) cruel and inhuman treatment; and (3) voluntary separation and living separate and apart without cohabitation. The legal separation may be temporary or permanent. The spouses must make a good-faith effort to reconcile their differences. [Annotated Code of Maryland; Family Law, Section 7-102].

Property Distribution:
Equitable Distribution

The applicable Maryland law that will dictate how property and debt is to be divided upon Divorce.