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Maryland’s Highest Court to Decide Law Firm’s Quest for Attorney’s Fees in Maryland Divorce Matter

As we have previously discussed in our blogs, many family law matters are decided outside of Court, with the assistance of attorneys. However, what happens when the parties, who have employed attorneys to assist in their divorce litigation, decide to take matters into their own hands? As the Maryland Daily Record reported on June 2, 2011, the Baltimore law firm of Tydings and Rosenberg is facing such a situation right now. The firm’s 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 is now seeking the fees, as Ms. Zorzit can not afford to pay for the work that has already been done, but Mr. Zorzit can. The Circuit Court for Baltimore County denied the firms request for the fees, the case was appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals, and a decision is awaited.

Many clients inquire as to their rights to have their spouse pay for their attorney fees in their divorce matter. The Maryland Code, Family Law Article § 7-107 provides that “at any point in a proceeding under this title, the court may order either party to pay to the other party an amount for the reasonable and necessary expense of prosecuting or defending the proceeding….[however] before ordering the payment, the court shall consider: (1) the financial resources and financial needs of both parties; and (2) whether there was substantial justification for prosecuting or defending the proceeding.” Parties should not rely on the possibility of such an award when employing counsel, as in our experience, attorney fees are often denied. However, there are cases where attorney fees are absolutely justified and the Court makes an appropriate award.

For more information, contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740

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