Search thousands of topics on CostHelper

BROWSE ALL TOPICS >> babies & children  cars  consumer electronics health & personal care home & garden personal finance  pets  schools small business sports weddings
CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Legal > Child Custody Attorney

Child Custody Attorney Cost


How Much Does a Child Custody Attorney Cost?

 
average costMedium: Start around $3,000-$5,000; Usually Billing $75-$400+ per hourhigh costHigh: Can Run $5,00-$,35000 for Complex Cases
post Post   Comments (3)  

An initial custody arrangement will be set up as part of a divorce, but changes in one parent's circumstances or desires (or if the parents were never married so there is no divorce decree), a separate child custody suit may be filed.

Typical costs:

  • Legal fees start around $3,000-$5,000 for a relatively simple child custody case, but could be quite a bit less if both parents are in relative agreement and can settle out of court. However, legal costs can jump to $5,500-$35,000 or more for a custody battle that includes taking depositions, hiring experts to testify, extensive "discovery" in the other parent's records, and lots of time preparing for and holding a trial.
  • Because custody cases are unpredictable in terms of complications and length, most family law attorneys charge fees based on hourly rates of $75-$400, although some attorneys charge as much as $500 an hour, according to the book "Child Custody Made Simple"[1] ; time in court is usually charged at a higher rate than for an office consultation. Some attorneys charge a flat fee for a specific, straightforward process, such as the paperwork needed for an uncontested change in custody arrangements. FindLaw.com explains the basic types of legal fees[2] .
  • Legal fees are usually paid in advance in a payment known as a retainer. If the attorney is working on an hourly basis, charges for the hours worked by an attorney or office staff will be deducted from the retainer as the work is done; if the retainer is used up you will be billed for an additional pre-payment.
Related articles: Child Support Attorney, Divorce, Prenuptial Agreement

What should be included:
  • Child custody is meant to be awarded based on the best interests of the child or children; custody is usually governed by state rather than federal law. Details vary between states. FindLaw.com lists custody laws [3] by state and custody resources [4] by state, and links to custody forms[5] for each state. Lawyers.com describes the rights of a non-custodial parent[6] .
Additional costs:
  • Books explaining the child custody system[7] range from $12-$100.
  • Some lawyers may include filing fees or other court costs ($5-$250 or more) and other expenses (copying, postage, messengers, paralegal time, etc.) in their legal fees but other attorneys charge separately for these. Get a written estimate of anticipated "other" costs.
  • Working with a mediator to create a custody agreement (without going to trial) could cost $80-$250 an hour, for two or more hours of work; this fee is usually split by both parties.
  • The initial consultation to discuss your case may be free or it could be charged at the attorney's hourly rate; ask before you go.
Discounts:
  • Many states have programs granting fee waivers (for filing fees and other court costs) to low-income people. You may also qualify for Legal Aid or other free or low-cost assistance; the American Bar Association links to legal resources[8] in each state.
Shopping for a child custody attorney:
  • Ask family and friends for feedback on local family law attorneys. Contact several, and ask about each one's training and experience in family law.Lawyers.com explains what to do in a first meeting with a family law attorney[9] .
  • Referrals are available through FindLaw.com[10] ; or you can contact your local bar association[11] .
  • Your attorney should provide you with a written fee agreement. Be sure you understand what is covered, and any other fees and expenses you might have to pay.
post Post   Comments (3)  
CostHelper News


7 Ways to Stretch Your Reduced Food Budget
End of the year budgets are tight for everyone, especially in this economy.It's especially hard for the millions of Americans who depend on government programs like food stamps to help make ends meet. || Posted November 11 2013


Fix-it Favorites: Duct Tape and WD-40
My mother taught me that all home fixit-projects can be accomplished with either duct tape or WD-40. If something shouldn't move and it does, use duct tape. If something should move and it doesn't, use WD-40. || Posted September 30 2013

‣ All CostHelper Blog Posts


What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Child custody mediation
Amount: $4,000.00 total
Posted by: Alondra in Nashville, TN.Posted: April 26th, 2017 01:04PM
Law Firm: AnonymousAmount Per Hour: ?
This was not going to court. This was just a simple 2 hour mediation,I paid for the mediation myself ($400)
I'm not sure if my attorney was taking advantage or not.Nothing was accomplished. I am looking for another attorney now.
Was this post helpful to you?   yes     no Report prohibited or spam
dissolution and chld custody
Amount: $7,000.00 total
Posted by: Family Law Reform Advocate in Kissimmee, FL.Posted: July 6th, 2016 10:07AM
Law Firm: Aleicia ReadingAmount Per Hour: flat fee
The trial took 1 day. No witnesses, no court reporter, no specialists or expert witnesses, no joint property to distribute, no dispositions.
Was this post helpful to you?   yes     no Report prohibited or spam
relocation action
Amount: $30,000.00 total
Posted by: Custodial Parent in Ithaca, NY.Posted: December 6th, 2014 05:12AM
Law Firm: Miller-MayerAmount Per Hour: 300
* over $2000 to prepare petition
* over $15000 the week of 1.5 days in court
* billed for both junior associate and partner appearance at court
* junior associate seems to cost at least twice as much per task compared to senior associate
* no deposition
* minor discovery requests
* no special witness
* billed for self-initiated investigations that did not result in any product
* multiple items on the bill did not lead to any legal product
Was this post helpful to you?   yes     no Report prohibited or spam


 

Comment On Your Experience With a Child Custody Attorney
 
Subject:  *
Amount Spent:  * total
Law Firm: Amount Per Hour: 
Comments: 
Purchased:  Year: 
City:  * State:  *
 
Information about you:
Email:  * Email addresses are not displayed.
Name:  This is the name we'll display with your post.
me on this computer
*=required field.
 



External Resources:
  1.  www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0964940434
  2.  hirealawyer.findlaw.com/attorney-fees-and-agreements/types-of-legal-fees.html
  3.  family.findlaw.com/child-custody/child-custody-summaries-of-state-laws.html
  4.  family.findlaw.com/child-custody/child-custody-and-visitation-information-by-state...
  5.  family.findlaw.com/child-custody/child-custody-forms-by-state.html
  6.  family-law.lawyers.com/visitation-rights/Visitation-Rights-After-Divorce-or-End-of...
  7.  www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=child+cu...
  8.  apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/home.cfm
  9.  family-law.lawyers.com/Family-Law-Meeting-with-a-Lawyer.html
  10.  family.findlaw.com/child-custody/get-legal-help-with-custody-visitation.html
  11.  apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/lris/directory/
More Personal Finance Topics
Check Out All Costs for Personal Finance How Much Do Funeral Flowers Cost? How Much Do Tax Returns Cost? How Much Does Closing a Home Cost?

Search Thousands of Topics on CostHelper.com

 
Today's Featured Cost Articles

About CostHelper
CostHelper is based in Silicon Valley and provides consumers with unbiased price information about thousands of goods and services. Our writers are experienced journalists who adhere to our strict editorial ethics policy.

CostHelper Community
economics
Paid: 200.00
... [more]
-rishabh sharda
Summer School Cost
Cost of painting a car
Paid: 1500.00
I've been doing body work and painting cars for nearly 40 years and watch the cost of paint and materials increase drastically. The old saying you get what you pay for absolutely applies to painting a car... [more]
-D's Nutz & Bolts
Auto Painting Cost
Bookkeeping,Payroll,legal issues for llc, and tax prep
Paid: 400.00
new business looking for bookkeeper, tax prep , and knowledge of LLC regulations and required tax forms sent out for states requirements (Arizona)... [more]
-Bonnie Rose (Owner)/A.Freeman
Bookkeeper Cost
Clearing land and debi
Paid: 300.00
Burnt trailer needs bee tore down and drive way needs to be pushed some trees has falling down... [more]
-Jewel singletary
Backhoe Cost
1 hour later, no results, no
Paid: 1956.00
I was charged already by University Physician Group:$190 for Spiromatry$40 for the test$30 for CO2 Diffuse CapacityI spent $40 on the copayI was later sent a bill for $1,956 additional directly from the hospital and not insurance paid... [more]
-Robby E.
Pulmonary Function Test Cost
Foundation Repair
Paid: 22250.00
1800 Sq ft house, 1 level:Diagonal cracks in brick all around the house; exterior right front wall of attached garage appeared to have heaved; patched interior walls were revealed as cracks after purchase; door casings separated at top corn... [more]
-Cheney
Foundation Repair Cost