Filing for custody in Maryland can be a potentially expensive process depending on numerous factors.
Generally, the actual filing process is cheap. A fee of $300 is required by the court when submitting the petition and necessary documentation, along with a small fee of $30 paid to the sheriff to deliver any summons. The Court may offer a fee waiver if requested; the requesting party must prove eligibility. Most expenses, however, are accrued throughout the course of the trial. Fiercely contested cases usually require numerous hearings, long court hours, heavy attorney and mediator involvement, motions and petitions, and the hiring of experts such as child psychologists.
Mediators – generally demanded in the early stages of the custody process – will usually attempt to work out a compromise between the parents in order to secure minimum legal involvement. Most mediators will charge a fee of a $100 – $300 per hour. A mediator should only be hired if a couple is certain they can agree and forego some of the attorney and court expenses that would otherwise be required.
Maryland circuit court will usually demand that all parties undergo a ‘custody evaluation.’ A custody evaluation refers to a set of tests, interviews, professional observations, and assessments that all parties may need to undergo before filing for custody. These procedures can range in value between $2500 and $6000. In addition to these prerequisites, some professionals may demand payment in order to testify in court – a key element in consolidating custody cases.
The greatest financial burden comes from the attorney fees in Maryland. Each party is usually expected to fund their own attorney/ court representation, with the exemption of cases where economic factors may substantially influence the overall outcome. Such cases usually include those where great economic disparity exists between the two parties, or when one party is incapable of financing proper representation.
The greatest variable when it comes to determining a lawyer’s fee in Maryland lies within the details of the case. Generally, a lawyer will charge an initial retainer fee – similar to a deposit – that reflects an estimate of what the total costs of the case will be. This retainer fee, while accurate, is in no way fixed, and is bound to change throughout the course of the case. A good lawyer will offer an approximate leeway over which the fee may fluctuate. Fierce and contested cases usually cost a greater sum than those where the parents are able to agree and cooperate. Attorney costs will also depend on the fee structure utilized by the specific lawyer. In the case of an hourly charge, expenses can rise to the tens of thousands over time, especially with hourly rates of (approximately) $400. In the case of flat-fees, usually charged as a single lump sum to be paid up front, an estimate of $5000 – $6000 is to be expected.
Overall, custody cases alone in Maryland are forecasted to cost within the $6000 – $12000 range, without taking into account any coincidental expenses such as How-to books, guides, classes, or therapy sessions.
If you need a Maryland child custody lawyer to help you with your child custody case in Maryland, call us at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland child custody attorneys can help you.