The average cost of a child custody lawyer is $21,500 according to Canterbury Law Group. Child custody lawyer fees ranged from $3,000 – $40,000 in the US for 2019. *Disclaimer – This is not an actual quote. If you need an experienced child custody lawyer contact Moshier Law to start your initial consultation.
What Can a Child Custody Lawyer Do?
Child custody is in reference to the court-specified right divorced parents have in making any significant decisions regarding their child(ren). Biological parents have the right to seek physical or legal custody of their child(ren) or child(ren) visitation, it doesn’t matter whether or not they were married when the child was born. The court will dictate which parent is more suitable, taking into account several factors, and grants custody to that parent.
If you have children and are dealing with a divorce, or have recently dealt with a divorce or separation, you will more likely require the assistance of an attorney who practices child custody. Even though not a requirement for child custody, speaking with a knowledgeable and experienced child custody lawyer is suggested in order to guarantee that your parental rights are honored.
What Factors Can Affect the Cost of a Child Custody Lawyer?
A big chunk of the costs related to child custody disputes come from the attorney’s fees, but other considerations relate to how costly the total case will be. Usually, these costs will be included:
• Type of Custody Dispute: Clearly, uncontested child custody cases are usually less costly to resolve than contested ones. This is one of the best ways to determine how affordable the dispute will be. If one party is intent on receiving sole custody and will not agree or work together, the dispute will continue with filing motions, depositions, significant court time, and hiring of child psychologists and other professionals.
In addition, while going to trial is the more expensive choice, mediation is not cheap either. Mediators are usually paid by the hour, and can cost anywhere from $100 and $300 per hour;
• Expert Witnesses and Specialists: As stated above, some cases need the help of an expert or specialist, like a child psychologist. If the dispute is an amicable one, each party involved may still have to go through a custody assessment.
Custody assessments involve tests, professional observations, and interviews; this can range from $1,500 to $6,000. These costs are increased if the case is contested and can rapidly reach into the tens of thousands range;
• Attorney’s Fees: Each attorney will set their own fee, and each parent is liable for paying for their own fees. Attorney’s fees in child custody cases are involved and will be further addressed below; and
• Assorted Fees: There are some assorted fees that can also add up fast. For instance, an estimated $30 required to pay a sheriff or 3rd party to serve the other party. Other papers that are required to be filed with the court can cost at a minimum of $1, or up to $300. These small fees add up to an expensive process. Additionally, the courts can order mediation prior to awarding any party custody, which can be very expensive or even free.
What Is The Cost For Filing For Child Custody?
As mentioned above, anytime you file a court case, you are required to pay a filing fee. The filing fee for child custody cases are determined by the local district clerk in the county you are going to file your papers but averages around $200 to $400.
Additionally, if you can’t afford the filing expenses, and if you qualify, you can get a waiver to waive the fee. Nevertheless, the actual cost of child custody cases is dictated mostly by the legal fees related to the case, this is particularly true in some cases where each party can’t agree on child custody.
Legal fees in custody cases are determined by a couple of factors. These include:
• The lawyer’s expertise, competence, and standing;
• The time used on your case;
• The possible difficulty and originality of your case; and
• Other expenses connected, like court fees, etc.
The expenses related to custody cases are mainly based on how compliant the parties are and how much the attorney charges. A lot of structures are forbidden from being prepared in family law cases, such as an emergency fee structure. Some types of agreements and fees and that are typically used in custody cases can comprise of:
Hourly Fee Agreements: This is the more normal fee structure that is used. A lot of lawyers charge various hourly fees for the type of work being completed, like one rate for research and another to appear in court;
Flat Fee Agreements: A flat fee is usually only offered if the case is easy and direct. This fee is definite and totaled;
Consultation Fees: The initial meeting, where each party can see if the lawyer can take your case. Some lawyers charge this fee, and some don’t, so it is essential to check with each potential attorney prior to going for your consultation;
Retainer Fees: Retainer structures are down payments on the legal service you will be getting. It is almost like having your attorney at the ready. A certain amount of money is deposited into an account and withdrawn as costs are sustained; or
Referral Fees: If one attorney refers you to a second attorney, they may ask for part of the total fee you will be paying.
Typically, child custody attorneys decide on an hourly rate or a flat fee. A flat fee for child custody matters can range from $3,000 to $20,000. Nevertheless, a low fee is not an implication of the quality of the representation you will be getting. These fees are estimated based on the amount of work an attorney is expected to put into the case in regard to the complexity of the case.
If the custody case is going to be fast and only needs mediation or a couple of court appearances and filings, it will likely be a lower flat fee. A contested or complicated case, needing more work and court appearances, will more than likely incur an increased flat fee.
An attorney can charge an hourly rate if each party can’t agree on custody or visitation structures, or if one party is trying to move the child(ren) to a different state, or if there might be any other complicated child custody matters. Hourly rates are not indicators of quality, but how costly the overall case may be. An attorney who decides on an hourly rate structure may want a retainer.
What Is The Cost To Modify Child Custody?
As mentioned above, there are a lot of factors that can affect the cost of child custody cases, and the same is true for altering a current child custody order. If both parties are in agreement to the altering of the child custody order, then the order might be able to be modified for a small fee or possibly no fee at all.
As an example, if one parent is relocating for a job opportunity and can’t take the child(ren), then the parents can agree to award sole custody to one parent to keep the child in familiar surroundings.
In these cases, the filing fee for a motion to modify a current child custody order could be free. However, if the modification is challenged you could be looking at increased filing and additional legal fees.
In a Child Custody Case, Who Pays the Attorney’s Fees?
Usually, in child custody cases, each party is obligated to pay their own legal fees for the costs related to the case. Despite that, a lot of courts has exceptions to that rule in custody cases where it is shown that there are great differences in the two parties financial standings if one party can’t afford legal representation, or where a judge can determine it just to grant logical attorney fees considering the situation of the case.
Do I Need to Hire a Child Custody Lawyer?
Child custody cases are sometimes complex, very emotional and require knowledge about a lot of aspects of family law. Therefore, an experienced and knowledgeable child custody lawyer will prove to be key in your case.
- Peeler, Travis. “How Much Will a Child Custody Lawyer Cost.”LegalMatch Law Library, 24 May 2019, www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/how-much-will-a-child-custody-lawyer-cost.html.
A knowledgeable child custody lawyer will help you understand your options and rights, draw up your custody request, and be your representation in court. They may also be able to deal with the other parent, avoiding longer litigation.
Speak With Our Child Custody Attorney In Scottsdale
Our child custody and guardianship attorney in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with concern and personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.
An experienced family law attorney will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We advocate for our clients, so they have the brightest future possible. Give us a call today at 480-999-0800 for a free consultation.