Residency Requirements for Filing for Divorce in Maryland

Categories :: Family Law > Divorce

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 will depend 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.  Where the grounds for divorce occurred outside Maryland, you or your spouse must have lived in Maryland for at least one year before filing your divorce complaint.Read the law: Md Code, Family Law 7-101

How to Prove Residency During a Divorce

First, you must state your residence in the court papers called a “divorce complaint”.  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. One court found that two important factors in proving 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 for 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, one way might be to bring your boss in to testify that your job will keep you in this state.  Other types of evidence to bring 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 1 year before filing for divorce.  Md. Code Family Law, § 7-101 (a).  You will need to wait until the 12 month period has passed before you can file for a divorce in Maryland.

Where to File

A divorce action may be filed in the circuit court of the county of residence of the plaintiff (or person starting the action) or the defendant (the person being sued for divorce).  A divorce action may also be filed in a county where the defendant is regularly employed or has a place of business. Read the Law: MD Code Courts & Jud. Proc. 6-102, 6-201, and 6-202.

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 prior to entering the armed services you established your residence in Maryland. This is true even if you have not lived in Maryland since.

Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”