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Divorcing can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. The divorce procedure has been well documented as one of the highest known factors for incurring stress. This is because divorce combines a multitude of well known, high-stress situations, such as breaking up with a partner, re-location, major changes to the family structure, and new financial burdens.

We understand how difficult the divorce procedure can be and have devised a thorough checklist to ensure the last thing you have to worry about is whether you have forgotten something important.

If you are currently going through a divorce, feel free to grab a pen and paper and go through each item on this checklist to assess where you currently are in the process. Include any comments, ideas, and questions you might have.  If you feel that you have a lot you are unsure of or worried about, ask one our divorce attorneys about it.  You may be surprised at how much you have to learn, and how much easier the process can be if you have an ally and advocate on your side.

This list is by no means “all inclusive”, but it will give you a great start to understanding the requirements of your future divorce.  The good news is that no matter if you choose to pursue a traditional contested divorce, or a no-fault uncontested divorce, this checklist can help you get started with the process.

Custody and Access of Children

  • Legal Custody. Will there be joint or sole legal custody?
  • Routine Access Schedule: Where will the children be on a given day?
  • Vacation Access Schedule: How many weeks of uninterrupted vacation time with the children?
  • Holiday Access Schedule: Who will the children celebrate with in a given year?  What are they currently used to?
  • School Breaks: Where will the children spend their vacation time?
  • Telephone Contact: What will the rules concerning communication with the children by phone?
  • Transportation: Who will transport the children for parenting time exchanges?
  • Best Interest of the Child: With all of these factors, which is the best for the children, not necessarily you or your spouse?

Child Support, Income Tax and Other Child Expenses

  • Basic Child Support: How much does it cost to support the children?  What do the Maryland Child Support Guidelines say the child support should be?
  • Medical/Dental Child Support: Who will insure the children?
  • Child Care Support: How much will each parent pay for daycare?
  • Security for Support: Should one or both parents secure life insurance for the benefit of the children?
  • Income Tax Exemptions: Who claims the children on their income taxes?
  • Spousal Maintenance/Alimony: How much and for how long will one spouse need support before he or she can become self supporting?

Property, Pre-Separation Debts and More

  • Medical Insurance: Will each party cover his or her own insurance?
  • Marital Property: What is a fair and equitable way to value and divide marital property?
  • Non-Marital Property: What is considered non-marital property?  Does the holder of a non-marital interest retain that interest without inquiry?
  • Pre and Post Separation Debts: How is the marital debt divided?
  • Fees and Costs: Will one party pay attorneys’ fees and court costs, or will each be responsible for his or her own fees and costs?
  • Name Change: Does either spouse wish to change their name?
  • Ongoing Conflicts: Will the parties agree to mediate?
  • Documents: Do each agree to execute all paperwork necessary to transfer property interests?
  • Non-Disclosure: Does the court retain the ability to re-open the case?


Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties (unlike annulment which declares the marriage null and void). Divorce laws vary considerably around the world but in most places, including Maryland, divorce procedures require the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process.

Divorce Rates in America

For the past decade, the overall American divorce rate has remained stable, at around 50% for first marriages. The statistics become more depressing for each successive marriage, with 65% of second marriages ending in divorce and even higher rates for third marriages and beyond.  Divorce rate statistics also show that 3.6 to 5% of marriages are ending every year, cumulating in a large portion of adults who have personally experienced divorce at some point in their lives, and many are experiencing it each year.

More statistics about divorce:

  • The divorce rate in 2010 was 3.6 per 1,000 of the total population, down from 4.0 in 2000.
  • The marriage rate in 2010 was 6.8 per 1,000 of the total population, which was also down from 8.2 in 2000.
  • The state with the highest reported divorce rate was Nevada, at 5.9 (per 1,000).  But this was significantly lower than ten years ago, when the state’s rate was 9.9 (per 1,000).
  • The state with the lowest reported divorce rate was Iowa, at 2.4 (per 1,000).  This was lower than 2000, when their divorce rate was 3.3 (per 1,000)
  • 43.7% of custodial mothers and 56.2% of custodial fathers were either separated or divorced. And in 2002, 7.8 million Americans paid about $40 billion in child and/or spousal support.

Divorce Rates in Maryland – Surprisingly Low!

Maryland and Washington, D.C., as it turns out, are two places in the nation where divorce is relatively low!  According to the statistics, the average divorce rate in the United States is 3.6 divorces per year for every thousand people. In Maryland and Washington, D.C., the rate is both only 2.8.  In Maryland, the rate has been steadily falling since 2000, where the rate was 3.3.  Washington, D.C.’s rate however has fluctuated, seeing rates as low as 1.7 in 2007 and 1.8 in 2004.

Today’s Divorce Process

Divorcing, of course, is rarely a pleasant prospect for the parties involved. Thanks to modernizing legislation in the past few decades, however, couples in Maryland that do choose to divorce have more options than ever before, allowing those who wish to do it amicably to be able to move through the process quickly as possible.  On the other hand, there are also laws to ensure that neither party is taken advantage of in the event that the divorce becomes highly contested.  With a solid understanding of the law, navigating the court system during a divorce does not have to be any more stressful than the actual divorce already is.

The traditional contested, court-based divorce process can be time-consuming and often very costly for both husband and wife.  However, couples can choose to go the route of uncontested divorce or no fault divorce . This provides a cooperative process in which the spouses, with the help of a mediation attorney, work together to settle issues such as who will get the house, how will child custody be arranged, and what kind of alimony or child support will be included in the divorce settlement.