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The Initial Filing to The Final Divorce Decree

Kathleen M. Kirchner April 25, 2023

Making the decision to file for divorce is only the first step in this process, even if it also serves as an ending. The truth is that the end of a marriage takes quite some time to finalize. Submitting paperwork to the courts and serving a spouse will only begin the process, and even that can take weeks to achieve after making an initial decision.

From there, it can be a lengthy process to disentangle personal and financial matters. How do divorcing spouses go from their initial filing to their final divorce decree?

They Educate Themselves

Some people go into their marriage with clear terms already set regarding what will happen with their property should they divorce. Others will be at the mercy of Maryland state laws. One of the first stages after deciding to divorce will involve learning about property division, child custody and support laws so that people can understand what to expect and begin formulating reasonable expectations for the process.

They Try to Settle if They Can

The courts in Maryland prefer that divorcing couples set their own terms whenever possible. Uncontested divorce proceedings put far less pressure on the courts than litigated divorces do. A judge only has to review and approve proposed parenting plans and property division arrangements rather than learn all about a family to make reasonable choices regarding their affairs. Those who do not yet agree on property division or custody matters can sometimes work things out collaboratively, through mediation and/or attorney-led negotiations.

Mediation can be a useful tool for those currently disagreeing about divorce. A mediator helps provide a neutral opinion and can make compromise easier for the divorcing spouses. Couples who reach agreements in mediation get to set all of the terms for their own divorces and can reduce how long it takes and how much it costs to end their marriage.

They Focus on The Future

One of the most common traps during divorce involves feeling like the process should be a referendum on the failed marriage. However, divorce is not about justice for marital misconduct. It is merely a means of separating lives so that each spouse can move forward independently.

For most people, focusing on a happy future rather than begrudgingly seeking vindication for the past is the healthiest way to approach an upcoming divorce. This approach also generally helps them to focus on property division and child custody choices that will serve them well moving forward.