Who Pays Attorney Fees in Child Custody Cases?
Child custody law refers to the regulations that govern the legal rights and obligations of guardians regarding their children. The most basic of these rights is a parent’s right to have the care and control of their own kids.
Child custody disputes are not only hard for the parents but can have a serious impact on the children involved and even the extended family. The rules concerning child custody vary by state. In Texas, both parents can seek and acquire an order for their children, whether the child lives in or out-of-state lines.
Custody can be awarded “solely” or “jointly.” Joint custody typically means that both parents have the custodial role and will both have periods of possession of the child. When sole custody is assigned to one parent, the other parent will usually have restricted visitation rights.
These cases can be expensive, so if you’re covering the bill for your child custody dispute without any savings or preparations beforehand, you may find the newfound expenses worrying.
If you want to be prepared for your child custody fees and potentially save yourself some money in the long run, our family law attorneys at The Farias Law Firm can help. Call today at 713-364-3942 to speak with our legal team specialized in child custody disputes.
How Much Does a Child Custody Case Typically Cost?
Child custody cases in Texas are not cheap. The average child custody court case in the U.S. can cost anywhere from $3,000-$40,000. Attorney fees make up a large chunk of the cost, but depending on the nature of the case, the cost range can vary.
The average attorney’s fee for a divorce case is $7,500, but lawyers may charge up to $40,000 for a divorce case involving children. The total cost depends on the type of dispute, the details of the case, and how many hours the attorney will spent working on it.
Due to the rising cost of lawyers and general legal fees, many people find themselves in a position where they can’t afford a lawyer for their family law issue, leaving them to face it on their own. Yet, many family law cases deal with complex and sensitive matters and require the skills of a professional attorney.
Who Pays Attorney Fees?
Typically under Texas law, each party will have to pay for their own legal fees. However, there are occasions where a spouse can request that the court order an ex-spouse to pay the total child custody case cost at the end of a trial.
The cost of a lawsuit can range from one suit to another depending on the details of the case. Let’s explore the factors that affect costs and how to minimize them for your circumstances.
What Type of Dispute?
Like divorce, a child custody dispute can be contested or uncontested. You have a contested dispute when you’re unable to reach an agreement with the other parent, and an uncontested dispute when both parents agree on major decisions. Uncontested child custody cases are usually easier to resolve and cost less than contested cases.
If one party disagrees with an issue, mediation can be used to settle the disagreement. Mediation involves an impartial third party who will work to help both parties reach a solution.
A family law lawyer can lead a mediation session to ensure that all important factors are accurately addressed and agreed upon. Mediation may seem impossible when serious disagreements arise, but it’s an excellent way of resolving disputes in a fair yet private way. Mediation can be expensive, but it is cheaper than going to court.
How Long Will Your Custody Case Take?
If your case is going to court and is contested, it will take much longer. The length of your case will greatly contribute to the legal fees. If court backlogs are a problem where you live, then it could mean keeping your case open for longer than you would like.
You may be able to save a lot of money by resolving your case through settlement early on. However, if you need to go to trial, the case will inevitably last longer.
Is There Texas Jurisdiction for your case?
A Texas trial can hear a child custody dispute if the child has been living in Texas for at least six months before the filing of the case. These guidelines come from the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which applies to custody cases where parents live in different states.
In the case that Texas does not have jurisdiction over your child, but they are in danger and need protection, a Texas court may have the power to hear the case temporarily.
Going to another state for a hearing will typically involve travel and hotel expenses. Maintaining Texas jurisdiction for your case can keep the costs from skyrocketing and keeps you closer to home.
Specialists and Expert Witnesses
If you are involved in a high-stakes custody battle and the court needs to call in an expert witness, it can get expensive.
Court decisions can rely on experts to provide crucial information. Specialized knowledge from doctors or psychiatrists can have considerable weight in court, but they may require large costs.
Child Custody Lawyer Costs
A child custody lawyer cost is usually somewhere in the region of $7,500 to $40,000. We can’t give you a definite answer, as it depends on the intricacies of your case.
Lawyers usually charge by the hour for custody cases, meaning the cost increases the longer it takes to resolve the dispute. Expect the cost for your case to be lower if you settle quicker. If your case goes to trial, you may find yourself at the higher end of this range. Some child custody battles become so drawn out due to one side accusing the other of mistreating their children, domestic violence, or disagreeing with child support arrangements.
If you are looking to save money, you should consider an uncontested or mediated case. With an affordable child custody mediation service, you can save a lot of money and the hassle of going through a full trial.
As attorneys get more experienced, they often charge more per hour. It’s important to consider the trade-off between quality and cost. In some cases, the best solution is to pay more for long-term gains.
In a custody dispute, we highly recommend having an experienced child custody attorney by your side. Don’t take a chance using cheaper legal services when it comes to your kids.
Additional Fees in Child Custody Cases
Additional costs will need to be paid in every child custody case. Filing fees for a child custody case currently start at $300-400, and this cost is passed on to you without any markups.
You will be responsible for any filing and service fees that are associated with the process of the dispute. This can extend to fees for transcripts, a third-party process server, photocopies, long-distance phone calls, postage, faxes, etc.
A sure way to decrease family court costs is a prenuptial agreement. However, if you and your future spouse are contemplating a prenuptial agreement, you need to think about who will pay for potential lawyer fees. One of the best ways to account for this is to insert in the agreement which party will be paying the costs if separation occurs.
If you want to go ahead with a prenup, make sure that the contract clearly states that each party will have their own lawyer. Otherwise, you could end up with a conflict of interest and not have the right legal support.
If you don’t have a prenup, then you can still request that your ex-partner reimburse the legal costs of your child custody lawyer.
If you want the other party to help pay for your child custody fees, place this in your initial pleadings. If not before, your lawyer can file a motion with the court later on.
Speak With an Experienced Family Lawyer About Your Custody Case
If you are looking for a skilled family lawyer, get in touch with The Farias Law Firm. We provide personalized legal services and offer one-on-one consultation to help our clients emerge victorious in their custody disputes. We help, consult, and find creative legal solutions to give you the most peace of mind.
Separating from a partner and battling custody is challenging enough. Let us eliminate some of the stress by providing you with unbiased, thorough representation and guidance.
One of the more stressful post-divorce situations you may face is disagreement with your ex-spouse over child custody. Rely on our skilled team of lawyers to fight for you in court and obtain a win-win solution that is best for you and your family.
At the Farias Law Firm, your best interests are our priority. No need to wait until the situation reaches a breaking point, get trusted access to legally sound advice now! Call for a case evaluation from our child custody lawyers today. 713-364-3942.