When it comes to family law, cost shouldn’t be your sole deciding factor when hiring a lawyer. Divorce is difficult enough — you shouldn’t add to your stress by using ineffective representation. Our partners at ConsumerAffairs researched the best divorce lawyers in Baltimore so you can find a reliable and trustworthy advocate.
Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes
Comprehensive family law practice
Aggressive representation throughout Maryland
Weekend & evening meetings available by appointment
In 2017, the divorce rate in Maryland was 2.5 divorces for every 1,000 people, slightly less than the national average of 2.9 divorces for every 1,000 people. Although divorce rates and marriage rates are both decreasing, divorce is not uncommon.
Knowing that others have gone and are going through the same process is cold comfort when in the middle of a divorce. Even uncontested divorces are often emotionally draining and stressful. Hiring the right attorney eases the tension and makes the process significantly easier.
Types of divorce in Baltimore
Most people in Baltimore are familiar with the terms contested and uncontested in divorce. In a contested divorce, the two parties do not agree on the terms of the divorce and require litigation or arbitration. In an uncontested divorce, the two parties agree to terms.
A person seeking a divorce is no longer required to prove their spouse is at fault, but obtaining a no-fault divorce in Maryland requires being separated for one year or mutually consenting to specific terms. Mutual consent requires the couple to prepare and finalize a settlement agreement, both appear in court and have no minor, dependent children.
For an at-fault divorce in Baltimore, the spouse filing for divorce must state one of seven causes recognized in Maryland, which include cruelty, adultery and abandonment.
Common approaches used to finalize divorce terms in Baltimore are:
Mediation uses a neutral third party who meets with the divorcing spouses and helps them agree to the terms of the divorce.
Arbitration also uses a neutral third party, but unlike a mediator, an arbitrator can make binding decisions in the settlement terms.
A collaborative divorce is similar to arbitration or mediation but doesn’t involve the courts or a third party. Each spouse and their respective attorneys agree to the terms of the divorce.
A default divorce is a divorce in absence, filed when one spouse has been missing for a significant period and cannot be located.
Summary divorces, also known as simple divorces, provide a streamlined process in instances where the parties cooperate and have no children, assets and significant debts.
Litigation is when a divorce goes to court before a judge who decides the terms of the divorce.
The cost of divorce lawyers in Baltimore
Most attorneys in Baltimore charge an hourly fee for divorce cases. The average hourly cost of an attorney is $250, but prices can range from $75 to $800 or more an hour. The average cost for a divorce in Maryland is $14,000, approximately $11,000 of which is attorney fees. However, factors that can complicate the divorce proceedings influence the final cost.
The following table shows the average cost of getting a divorce in Maryland with various factors involved.
Average total cost
Property division dispute
Other factors that increase the cost of getting a divorce in Baltimore include:
Having a high net worth
Owning multiple properties
Having numerous financial accounts and investments
Divorces filed as a result of adultery, desertion, abuse or cruelty.
Instead of paying the entire fee upfront, most lawyers request a retainer fee of $2,000 to $5,000 at the time you hire an attorney. Even if you discuss the types of fees and average cost in advance, request a written fee agreement to avoid expensive services that eat away at your retainer.
Generally, attorneys send clients monthly bills that show the amount of the retainer used for their hours, staff hours, court costs, filing fees and expert witnesses, if applicable, and the amount remaining in the retainer.
It is up to the client to refill the retainer in advance of depletion, unless other arrangements are made in advance, to prevent a delay in the process. In some cases, such as with a stay-at-home-parent, a judge will order the other spouse to pay the attorney’s fees.
Choosing a divorce lawyer in Baltimore
To ensure you’re working with the right lawyer for your circumstances, consider their experience in all family law areas relevant to your divorce, read client testimonials, inquire about costs and ask for a free consultation, which many Baltimore family attorneys provide.
The purpose of the consultation isn’t to get into the details of the divorce but to get to know the attorney and see if they are the right fit for your case. Because of the private details on full display and the overall intimate nature of divorces, it’s essential to work with an attorney with whom you are comfortable and can communicate openly.
Hiring a lawyer that specializes in areas relevant to your divorce can save you time and money in the long-run. Family law specializations include:
Child support and custody
High net worth
Inquire about a lawyer’s specialties and their experience with various types of divorces before you hire them, especially if children are involved. For child support and custody cases, it’s important to find a family law attorney who can represent your needs and the best interest of any children simultaneously.
During your consultation, you might also want to ask about the number of divorce cases the lawyer has handled and how many were resolved in arbitration and how many went to court.
Other issues you could ask about are:
Whether an associate will assist with the case
Office hours and availability by phone
If they foresee any issues with your case
How often they’ll update you on developments
If they provide a written billing agreement
Hourly billing rate
Extra fees charged, including document copy fees
A rough estimate of price based on experience with similar cases
Low-cost divorce options in Baltimore
Maryland residents do have lower-cost options, including filing for divorce on your own, which costs $165 initially. Additional charges are billed to the filer if the court has to contact the spouse or if the spouse files an official response.
If both spouses agree on the terms and no children are involved, you can file a joint petition for divorce for around $200, but it’s a good idea to hire a Baltimore attorney to review the petition before filing it with the court.
Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes
The Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes has built a reputation around having lawyers with extensive courtroom experience, keen attention to detail, a dedication to addressing client concerns and a willingness to take the time to understand each unique situation. Baltimore clients say this is the place to go for reliable, supportive and client-focused legal services.
Voss Law has a record of success in trials, mediations and alternative resolutions in divorce proceedings, including military divorce. The firm handles cases involving child support and custody, alimony, property division and domestic violence. Baltimore clients say they received spectacular service at this comprehensive family law office.
Cordell & Cordell
Cordell & Cordell is dedicated to helping men navigate all divorce issues, including property division, child support, child custody and alimony. For almost 30 years, Cordell & Cordell has been advocating for fathers’ rights in Maryland and across the country. Baltimore customers recommend the firm for its support, expertise and favorable outcomes.