Talk to a top lawyer for free

How much does a divorce cost in Maryland?

The cost of divorce in Maryland depends on a few common factors that affect the divorce process and how it unfolds.

evident Editorial Team
April 2, 2024
Baltimore harbor

Questions about the cost of divorce in Maryland are one of several sources of stress for people going through a divorce. 

Several common factors affect Maryland divorce costs, and although it’s difficult to provide generalized estimates of divorce costs, understanding what these factors are can alleviate some of the stress and anxiety involved.

In this article, we will explore the main factors that affect the cost of divorce in Maryland. We'll also share data on the average cost of divorce in the state. Finally, we’ll highlight resources for lower-cost divorce options that may be helpful.

Key Takeaways

The Average Cost of Divorce in Maryland

The average cost of a divorce in Maryland is around $14,000 for cases without children and approximately $21,000 for divorces involving children, according to USA Today.  

But average divorce costs don't reflect the reality that every divorce is unique. The actual cost of a divorce in Maryland can vary greatly depending on the context and persons involved.

For instance, even these averages reflect the difference in average costs for divorces depending on whether there are children involved.

Therefore, it's critical to understand the various factors that influence the overall cost of divorce to get a sense of how expensive your divorce might be. 

What affects the cost of divorce in Maryland?

So, how much does a Maryland divorce cost? Factors that affect Maryland divorce costs include:

  • Maryland divorce filing fees and court costs
  • Attorneys’ fees
  • How complicated your divorce is
  • How contentious your divorce is

The first two factors are concrete inputs, and it is easier to specify a number related to these costs. The other two factors are more thematic but still crucial, as they influence how smoothly your divorce will proceed. 

How much does it cost to file for divorce in MD?

The filing fee for divorce in Maryland is $165.

There is also a service fee for having the divorce papers served on your spouse, often by the sheriff. This can cost around $40 - $60. 

A fee waiver may be available if you cannot afford the Maryland divorce filing fees. 

Note that there could be additional court filing fees if you or your spouse file additional motions in your case. 

How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Maryland?

Attorneys’ fees can be one of the primary factors affecting the cost of divorce in Maryland. 

The cost of hiring a Maryland divorce attorney can depend on how they charge for their services, so it's important to first understand their billing methods.

Divorce Lawyer Fee Structures

Divorce lawyers in Maryland commonly use two main fee structures: hourly rates or flat fees. 

Divorce lawyers in Maryland who use hourly rates bill their clients based on the time they spend working on the case. These attorneys may ask for a retainer fee upfront to cover their fees.

Meanwhile, other divorce attorneys may offer a flat fee in which they quote a predetermined amount for their services (e.g. $5,000 for the case). 

pros and cons of attorney billing methods

There are pros and cons to each billing method, but note that the details of your divorce could impact which billing method makes more sense. For instance, flat fees are often a better fit for uncontested divorces in which divorce attorneys can more accurately predict the amount of work required, whereas hourly rates generally make more sense for contested divorces, which have less predictable time requirements.

Average Hourly Rates For Maryland Divorce Lawyers

The average hourly rate for Family Law attorneys in Maryland is approximately $334 per hour. (Note that divorce is a subsection of the legal practice area of Family Law). 

But again, this is just an average. Actual hourly rates vary based on numerous factors (e.g. the lawyer's experience, where they’re located, etc.). So lawyers in bigger cities such as Baltimore may have higher average rates compared to divorce lawyers in other parts of Maryland.

Hourly Rates vs. Hours worked

Understanding hourly rates is helpful, but it's equally important to consider the amount of time the lawyer might spend working on your case. The amount of time a Maryland divorce lawyer spends working on your case can have a greater impact on the total cost of divorce in Maryland than their hourly rate. 

For instance, compare a $300 hourly rate and 10 hours of work with a lower $250 hourly rate but 50 hours of billable hours ($300 x 10 hours = $3,000 in attorney fees vs. $250 x 50 hours = $12,500).  

This is why the complexity and contentiousness of your divorce can have such a big impact on the total cost.

How Complicated Your Divorce Is

Generally speaking, the more complicated a divorce is, the more expensive it can be. 

There are several things that can make a divorce more complicated, but one major distinction is whether the divorce is uncontested or contested. 

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce in Maryland

An uncontested divorce is when the spouses agree on all issues related to the divorce, including alimony, property division, child custody, and child support.

Uncontested divorces are typically faster, simpler, and cheaper than contested divorces. Indeed, the cost of uncontested divorce in Maryland can often be limited to court costs and filing fees if the parties can reach an agreement amicably.

Contested divorces, meanwhile, involve one or more unresolved issues between the divorcing couple. The number of unresolved issues and the intensity of the disputes surrounding those issues significantly impact the overall cost of divorce in Maryland. 

So while contested divorces are typically more expensive, there is still a broad spectrum of possible outcomes when dealing with a contested divorce. 

What makes a Maryland divorce more complicated?

Here are some of the factors that can make a divorce more complicated and, in turn, increase the cost: 

  • Minor children – as reflected in the average costs noted above, divorces involving children tend to be more expensive because the parties have to work through more issues, namely child custody and child support.
  • Substantial marital assets – the bigger the marital estate, the more there is to sort through when dividing property.
  • Complicated marital assets – it is easier to divide some cash accounts and perhaps a family home than if the spouses own complicated assets like intellectual property rights or ownership interests in a company or partnership.
  • Income discrepancies – alimony is not an issue in every divorce, but it can complicate matters when the question of spousal support comes up. 

These factors can make a divorce more complicated and increase how much a Maryland divorce costs. Furthermore, any of these issues can be a source of disagreement, which connects to our next factor affecting Maryland divorce costs: how amicable or contentious the divorce is.

How Contentious Your Divorce Is

Navigating a contentious divorce can be an emotionally draining and financially burdensome experience. While uncontested divorces are generally more cost-effective and streamlined, not all couples are able to reach such agreements. However, even in situations where an uncontested divorce is not possible, it is still beneficial to adopt a collaborative approach and strive for cooperation with your ex-spouse.

One effective method to mitigate the costs associated with a contentious divorce is through divorce mediation or other collaborative divorce processes. By engaging in mediation, you and your ex-spouse can work together with a neutral third-party mediator to facilitate negotiations and find mutually agreeable solutions. This approach can significantly reduce the need for lengthy court battles and excessive lawyer fees.

Although achieving complete amicability may not always be attainable, making genuine efforts to find common ground and work cooperatively can yield several benefits, including time and cost savings. While it may be challenging to set aside personal differences, focusing on the long-term benefits of a cooperative approach can ultimately lead to a more cost-effective and less contentious divorce process. 

Seeking the guidance of a qualified divorce attorney who specializes in collaborative methods can provide valuable insights and ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout this journey.

Lower-Cost Options for Divorce in Maryland

For individuals concerned about the cost of divorce in Maryland, there are resources that can help reduce legal expenses. These resources allow people to get legal help without hiring a Maryland divorce lawyer for full representation.

One option is limited-scope representation, in which a divorce attorney can assist you with specific aspects of your case. (For example, they could review your marital settlement agreement or accompany you to mediation without representing you for the full scope of your divorce case, which would be more expensive). 

Legal Aid organizations are another resource for those who meet the relevant eligibility requirements. For instance, Maryland Legal Aid offers free or low-cost legal services to qualifying individuals. 

In terms of Maryland divorce filing fees, remember that fee waivers may be available for qualifying individuals. 

For those who are able to afford a Maryland divorce lawyer, it can be invaluable to have an experienced attorney protecting your interests throughout the full scope of your case. However these resources can provide crucial assistance to those who need legal assistance through more affordable alternatives. 

FAQs About the Cost of Divorce in Maryland

How long does the average divorce take in Maryland?

The timeline for a divorce in Maryland depends on several factors. 

An uncontested divorce can be finalized relatively quickly, often within a few months. But a contested divorce that involves disputes and requires court intervention can take much longer, often up to a year or more. 

The complexity of issues, the court’s schedule, and the level of cooperation between the parties can all impact the timeline of a Maryland divorce. If you’re curious about your own divorce, it's important to consult with a divorce lawyer to get a better understanding of the specific circumstances that may affect your timeline.

What is the cheapest way to get a divorce in Maryland?

The cheapest way to get a divorce in Maryland is with an uncontested divorce. If the divorcing spouses can agree on all the issues related to the divorce, they can submit a proposed marital settlement agreement to the court for its approval.

This is generally faster, easier, and less expensive than the alternative, but it is only an option if the divorcing couple can work together and reach an agreement.

How long do you have to be separated in Maryland to get a divorce?

Whether or not you need to be separated from your spouse and for how long depends on what grounds for divorce you file under. 

After recent changes to Maryland divorce law, couples may file for divorce after a 6-month separation if they have lived separate lives for six months. But spouses may also file for divorce on the basis of mutual consent or irreconcilable differences and do not need to be separated for any particular period of time to be eligible for divorce on those grounds. 

The Final Word on the Cost of Divorce in Maryland

So, how much does a divorce cost in Maryland? Let’s recap the main points. 

The average cost of divorce in Maryland is approximately $14,000 for cases without children and $21,000 for divorces involving children, but actual costs can vary greatly. 

Factors including filing fees, court costs, lawyers' fees, the complexity of the divorce, and the contentiousness of the divorce all affect the overall cost of divorce in MD. 

There are lower-cost resources available for individuals who cannot afford a Maryland divorce attorney. But for those who can afford the cost, an experienced divorce lawyer can be an invaluable resource.

If you have other questions about the cost of divorce in Maryland, consider speaking with an experienced divorce attorney. And if you do, ask these questions during your initial consultation to evaluate whether they are the right fit for you.