HOW DO I RESPOND TO MY HUSBAND’S COMPLAINT FOR ABSOLUTE DIVORCE WHEN THE ALLEGATIONS ARE UNTRUE?

After mutual protective orders were dismissed, my husband filed for absolute divorce. What do I do and how do I fight it? He has addiction problems, a criminal record, and a recent bankruptcy.

ANSWER

After being properly served with a Complaint for Absolute Divorce, you have thirty (30) days to respond if you were served in Maryland. If you were served outside of the State of Maryland, you have sixty (60) days to respond.

You can find a blank Answer form through the Maryland Court website: https://www.courts.state.md.us/courtforms
In your Answer, you will need to admit or deny each allegation. If an allegation is untrue, you should deny that allegation. Some allegations, depending on the circumstances, you may not be able to admit or deny.

When filing your Answer, you should also file a Counter-Complaint for Absolute Divorce. A Counter-Complaint will be your request to the Court for relief. Since a Counter-Complaint is not an original pleading, you can serve the other party via regular mail. Your spouse will then have thirty (30) days to file a response to your Counter-Complaint.
There are many grounds for divorce in Maryland, such as: adultery, cruelty of treatment/excessively vicious conduct, and constructive desertion. The aforementioned are considered “fault grounds” and are difficult to prove. Keep in mind that even though your spouse may have pled fault grounds in his Complaint for Absolute Divorce, he would have to prove those grounds. If he is unable to meet the standard to prove fault grounds, the Court will not grant a divorce on those grounds. The most common ground for an absolute divorce, if you are unable to reach an agreement, is a one (1) year separation. Once the parties have been separated for over one (1) year, the majority of Courts will grant the divorce based upon the separation rather than on fault grounds.

It would be best for you to consult with an attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your rights and assets.