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You have to have oral testimony by the plaintiff, in person, and in the courtroom, to obtain a divorce.  Family Law Section 1-203 and Rule 9-209.

That testimony has to be corroborated by someone or something other than the parties to the divorce.  Family Law Section 7-101(b).   A marriage certificate can corroborate the marriage.  A notarized written agreement signed before the complaint was filed can corroborate a mutual and voluntary separation.  Family Law Section 1-104.

But most of your testimony is corroborated by a witness.  That testimony also has to be oral and in court “unless otherwise ordered by the court for good cause”.  Rule 9-209.

What is good cause?  The court has allowed me to use telephone testimony in a handful of cases where the corroborating witness was a geographically distant relative or a busy mental health professional.  In one uncontested divorce, I was permitted to corroborate adultery with the deposition transcript of the paramour, but the judge let me know he would have preferred live testimony.  If you are going to try to corroborate without a witness in the courtroom, call the judge’s clerk or secretary before the trial to make sure it will be permitted.

In an uncontested divorce case in Maryland, the plaintiff needs to appear in court to testify.  The Court of Appeals once issued a rule that allowed for summary judgment in divorce cases so no one would have to appear.  However, the Legislature felt that divorce should be treated as a more serious matter, and so it passed the following law in 1984:

Oral testimony required for final decree.  In an action for alimony, annulment, or divorce, a final decree may not be entered except on oral testimony by the plaintiff in a hearing before an examiner or a master or in open court.  MD Family Law Article, Section 1-203(c).

The defendant need only appear if he or she wants to do so. You will need to bring a witness with you to corroborate the facts of your divorce.

The judge has be certain of the proof before a divorce can be granted in Maryland.  In fact the law requires that the testimony of the plaintiff be corroborated by other evidence.

Section 7-101 of the Family Law Article states: “A court may not enter a decree of divorce on the uncorroborated testimony of the party who is seeking the divorce.”

That’s why we ask you to bring a copy of your marriage certificate and a witness to your uncontested divorce hearing.

The marriage certificate is corroborating evidence of your marriage.  If you don’t have a copy, you can also corroborate your marriage with the testimony of a witness who was present at the wedding.

The witness can corroborate residency, custody, the date of separation and that the separation was voluntary on the part of both parties for the year prior to filing the complaint, the usual grounds for uncontested divorce in Maryland.

Voluntary separation can also be corroborated by a Separation Agreement if (1) it states that the spouses voluntarily agreed to separate, and (2) it is executed under oath (i.e., notarized) before the divorce complaint is filed.  Section 8-104 of the Family Law Article.