The Cost of Uncontested and Contested Divorces in Maryland and D.C.

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The cost of divorce can vary significantly based on several factors, including the level of conflict between the parties. In this article, we will delve into the cost considerations of uncontested and contested divorces in Maryland and D.C., shedding light on the financial implications and providing a comprehensive overview for those seeking a dissolution of their marriage.

Uncontested Divorce: A Cost-Effective Approach

An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties mutually agree on all aspects of the divorce, including property division, child custody, child support, visitation rights, and alimony. It is the most cost-effective and time-efficient option for ending a marriage.

  1. Filing Fees: The first cost consideration in any divorce is the filing fees. In Maryland, the filing fee for a divorce is approximately $165, while in Washington, D.C., it is around $80. These fees cover the initial paperwork required to initiate the divorce process.
  2. Attorney Fees: In uncontested divorces, where both parties are in agreement, the need for extensive legal representation is reduced. However, it is still advisable to consult an attorney to ensure that all legal requirements are met and that the divorce agreement is fair and legally binding. Attorney fees for uncontested divorces can range from $1000 to $5,000, depending on the complexity of the case and the attorney’s hourly rates.
  3. Mediation Costs: Mediation is a popular option for uncontested divorces as it provides a neutral third party to help the couple reach mutually agreeable solutions. The cost of mediation in Maryland and Washington, D.C., can range from $250 to $400 per hour, depending on the mediator’s experience and location.
  4. Miscellaneous Expenses: Additional costs to consider in an uncontested divorce include notarization fees, document preparation, and court fees for finalizing the divorce agreement. These costs can amount to a few hundred dollars.

Contested Divorce: Higher Costs and Lengthy Proceedings

A contested divorce occurs when the spouses are unable to agree on one or more key issues and require court intervention to resolve their disputes. Contested divorces tend to be more expensive due to the increased complexity and prolonged legal proceedings.

  1. Attorney Fees: Contested divorces typically require extensive legal representation due to the adversarial nature of the process. Attorney fees for contested divorces can range from $10,000 to $30,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the case, the attorney’s experience, and the amount of time required to resolve the disputes.
  2. Court Costs: In contested divorces, court costs can quickly accumulate. These costs include filing fees, motions fees, discovery costs, expert witness fees, and trial preparation expenses. The total court costs can range from several thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the case and the number of hearings and trials involved.
  3. Forensic and Valuation Expert Fees: In cases where there are significant assets or businesses involved, it may be necessary to hire forensic accountants or valuation experts to determine the value of the marital property. The fees for these experts can range from $5,000 to $20,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the financial issues involved.
  4. Child Custody and Support Evaluation: In contested divorces with child custody disputes, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem or custody evaluator to assess the best interests of the child. The fees for these evaluations can range from $2,500 to $10,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the case and the evaluator’s fees.
  5. Expert Witness Fees: In some cases, expert witnesses may be necessary to provide specialized knowledge or testimony on specific issues such as the value of assets, psychological evaluations, or forensic analysis. Expert witness fees can vary significantly depending on their field of expertise and the amount of time they spend on the case.


The cost of a divorce, whether uncontested or contested, can vary widely depending on several factors. In uncontested divorces, where both parties are in agreement, the costs are generally lower, primarily comprising filing fees, attorney fees for consultation, and potentially mediation costs. On the other hand, contested divorces tend to be more expensive, involving higher attorney fees, court costs, expert fees, and evaluation expenses.

It is essential to note that the costs mentioned in this article are approximate figures and can vary depending on the complexity of the case, the attorney’s rates, and other variables. It is advisable to consult with an experienced divorce attorney in Maryland or D.C., to obtain a more accurate estimate based on your specific circumstances. Regardless of the cost, it is crucial to prioritize open communication, cooperation, and seeking professional guidance to navigate the divorce process effectively and minimize both the financial and emotional impact on all parties involved.

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D.C. and Maryland Divorce Lawyers

Navigating the divorce process in Maryland and D.C. can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. Contact the Maryland divorce attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl. Schedule a consultation today by calling us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. With our support, you can get through this challenging time and move forward with your life.

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