In most cases, those who go to court in Maryland will have to pay for their own attorney.
After a lengthy case that ends with a trial or hearing, attorney fees can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
In a divorce, one spouse has the option to ask the court to order the other spouse to pay their attorney fees.
Judges in Maryland have the authority to tell one spouse to pay all or part of the other spouse’s fees, but the decision is not supposed to be a matter of the judge’s personal taste.
Instead, according to the Women’s Law Center of Maryland’s Legal Rights in Marriage and Divorce, the judge has to consider the financial situation of each side.
The idea behind awarding attorney fees is that both spouses should have equal access to the legal system. Without it, the spouse with a higher income or who managed to keep control of most of the couple’s resources has an unfair advantage.
Unfortunately, awards of attorney fees are neither guaranteed nor immediate. Once awarded, it may prove difficult to get the other spouse to reimburse these fees.
On a related point, a spouse will not receive a property settlement or alimony payments immediately, especially if the divorce is contentious.
Ultimately, a resident of Bel-Air or Upper Marlboro may have to pay some of their attorney fees upfront. However, financial arrangements to help make the divorce more affordable may be available.
There are legal alternatives that may reduce divorce costs
Although they are not right for every case, there are legal alternatives to going to court that are available for those who wish to get a divorce but who are conscious of costs.
For example, in many cases, mediation can help a couple resolve any differences and finalize their divorce more efficiently.