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Where Do I File My Family Law Case?

Each of the 23 Maryland counties (as well at the City of Baltimore) has its own Circuit Court that handles family law cases. A family law case over which a Maryland court has jurisdiction can be filed by a party against another party in the Circuit Court for the county where the second party (the defendant) either lives, carries on a regular business, is employed, or habitually engages in a vocation. Also, certain types of family law cases can be filed in other locations in addition to the above:

  • 1. A divorce case can also be filed in the Circuit Court of the county where the plaintiff lives;
  • An annulment case can be filed where the plaintiff lives or where the marriage ceremony was performed; and
  • A case relating to custody, guardianship, or support of a child can be filed where the father lives, the mother lives, or where the child lives.

When there are a number of permissible counties where you can file a family law action, you and your attorney should make a strategic decision as to what county will be the best for you. Factors to be considered include the distance of the counties from the person and his attorney, how judges in those counties have ruled in similar cases in the past, how long it typically takes cases in certain counties to be resolved, and the familiarity of the party's attorney with the Circuit Courts in the counties being considered.

This article is general in nature and you should check with a lawyer in your community for specific legal advice once the facts of your specific situation are taken into account.

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