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Maryland Highest Court Rules Law Firm Can Intervene to Obtain Fees

As we reported on June 6, 2011, a novel issue was presented to the Court of Appeals involving law firm intervention in divorce in order to seek attorney’s fees. In the case of Tydings & Rosenberg LLP v. John Zorzit, Tydings & Roseberg former client, Julie Zorzit, after employing the firm to do a substantial amount of work, met privately with her husband, John Zorzit, and waived all rights for her attorney’s fees to be paid by her husband. The firm was seeking the fees, as Ms. Zorzit could not afford to pay for the work that had already been done, but Mr. Zorzit could. The Circuit Court for Baltimore County denied the firms request for the fees, and the case was appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals.

On October 30, 2011, the Maryland Daily Record reported that the Court of Appeals found in Tydings & Rosenberg’s favor and held that family law attorneys can intervene in a divorce proceeding in order to ensure that they are paid for their services. The Court stated that The Maryland Code, Family Law Article § 7-107, the statute governing attorneys fees in divorce matters, gives the Court the authority to award counsel fees to a party’s lawyer directly, and therefore Tydings & Rosenberg had the right to intervene. The Court affirmed the parties’ divorce but vacated other provisions in their Judgment of Absolute Divorce and sent the case back to the Circuit Court for Baltimore County to be heard on the issue of attorney fees.

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