Divorce is an expensive process, often costing as much as a wedding for the couple getting a divorce. Factors ranging from how angry spouses are to the location of the household can impact how much a divorce costs. In Maryland, the average cost of divorce without children is $14,000, while a divorce with kids will cost $21,000 per spouse.
Uncontested divorce filings and realistic expectations can help keep your divorce costs lower, but you can still anticipate spending thousands on the dissolution of your marriage. Before you ever file, you may need to start planning to pay for those expenses. What options do you have for covering the cost of a divorce?
As a dependent spouse, you may not have your own money
If you would have stayed home to take care of the children or maintain the family home, you probably don’t have your own income to cover the cost of hiring a lawyer. Thankfully, the Maryland courts recognize the importance of equitable access to legal representation during a divorce.
Dependent spouses can ask the courts to have their wage-earning spouse cover the reasonable cost of legal representation in a divorce. If the courts agree with your request, your ex will be the one paying for the attorneys’ costs and court fees.
If you have your own income, be careful not to hide anything
Setting a little bit of money aside so that you have a retainer fee for an attorney is a smart decision, but you cannot keep marital assets separate without reporting them to your spouse and the courts when you file for divorce. You will need to include that amount set aside in your inventory of marital assets unless you have a prenuptial agreement that allows you to set aside some of your income as separate property.
Otherwise, you could wind up accused of hiding property, which could impact how the courts divide your assets. It is important that you are transparent about any income from the marriage that you set aside for divorce expenses before you separate.
There can be many other simple ways to cover your costs during a divorce. Some people can rely on financial help from family members, while others may be able to take an advance against their wages from their employer or even work out a payment plan with their attorney. You shouldn’t let the potential costs of getting a divorce prevent you from moving on to a happier future.