What If I Don't Want A Divorce?
Divorce laws vary by state, but in general, a spouse may file for divorce whether or not their partner agrees. In the state of Maryland, it only takes one spouse to file for divorce, and it can proceed even if the other spouse does not agree to the divorce.
Generally, there are two types of divorce: “fault” and “no fault.” With a “fault” based divorce, one spouse must prove that the other spouse did something to warrant the divorce, such as commit adultery or behave excessively vicious toward the other spouse. With a “no fault” divorce, neither party alleges that the other did anything to cause the divorce, they simply decide that they no longer wish to be married. For a “no fault” divorce, either the parties have been separated for at least 12 months, living in separate homes without sexual intimacy, or they can file for a Mutual Consent Divorce, as we explained in a recent blog post here.
When one party files for divorce, the other party is required to file an Answer to the Complaint. If the person chooses to not file an Answer, the court can enter an Order of Default against the Answering party. The case may then proceed whether or not the person chooses to participate, and the spouse who filed for divorce will still be required to put on evidence on the grounds for divorce and other issues in the case (custody, support, property, etc.), regardless of whether it was no fault or fault-based. Regardless, so long as one spouse wants a divorce and they can support their case with evidence, the court will grant the divorce whether or not the other party participates.
If you find yourself in a situation where your spouse wants a divorce, but you do not, we recommend speaking with a divorce attorney. Your divorce attorney can guide you through your options and help you decide the best way to proceed. You should understand the risk of not participating in the divorce before proceeding in that manner. Ignoring the case will not make it go away.
We also recommend seeking outside help to cope with divorce. Whether it is a trusted friend or a professional counselor, there are ways to help process your emotions and move forward with your life. Our team understands that divorce can be emotionally draining and we are here to support our clients throughout the process and afterward.