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What is a mutual consent divorce and do I need a lawyer for one?

| Jul 14, 2020 | Divorce |

Divorce is complicated, but sometimes, it is not. For couples that want to work together to achieve the best possible outcome for both departing spouses, a mutual consent divorce may be a way to cut costs and avoid the need to hire two attorneys.

First, Maryland courts grant mutual consent divorces when couples can agree to the divorce and signed a written agreement called a settlement agreement, which settles all divorce issues. This settlement agreement must covered everything, including child custody and child support. However, if the settlement agreement includes child support a court provided child support guidelines worksheet should be used. In addition, if the separating couple’s combined monthly income is less than $15,000, form CC-DR-030 is required, and above $15,000, form CC-DR-031 should be used instead.

The settlement agreement must detail specifically how each spouse will handle marital property and assets. This includes the family home, cars, appliances, etc. Depending on the couple, health insurance and retirement benefits should be included, along with alimony or spousal support.

Remember though, not all property is considered marital property. The property that falls outside of this classification does not need to be included in the settlement agreement.

As readers can already see, even when couples agree, divorce is still complicated. This is why Maryland courts suggest contacting an attorney before signing an agreement. Of course, if one spouse has already hired an attorney, the other spouse should as well, but a single attorney can provide help for both spouses, like a mediator. Additionally, for a couple looking for a mutual consent divorce, but looking to avoid attorneys, they can speak with a free lawyer at the Maryland Courts Self-Help Center. While these lawyers do not represent either party, they can help with brief advice for drafting settlement agreements.

Depending on how long a couple has been together, even when both parties can agree, the amount of property and asset may mean hiring an attorney is unavoidable. Negotiating can be difficult. Understanding what needs to be divided and how to divide it can be complicated and laborious. While the courts offer help, they still encourage filers to seek legal assistance outside the courts to ensure their rights are protected.