How Much Does a Child Custody Lawyer Cost? 

When it comes to child custody cases, legal fees can vary significantly. The typical legal fee for a simple custody case starts at around $3,000, though this can be reduced if the parents are in agreement and can settle out of court. The fee can increase to as much as $5,500 if the case goes to trial and involves hiring experts, taking depositions, and extensive discovery of the other parent’s records. The fees also include the time spent preparing for trial. 

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Uncontested child custody cases 

Uncontested child custody cases cost less than contested ones, especially if both parents are agreeable about the custody of the children. Many cases are settled out of court with the help of mediation, which is not free but much less expensive. Even if the parents are amicable, they may need the help of an attorney to help them create a custody agreement. The attorney’s fees will depend on the complexity of the case and how fast it is resolved. 

Child custody lawyers charge by the hour or per case. Typically, clients pay a retainer up front for a predetermined amount of time. After the retainer runs out, the client must refresh it. An hourly fee lawyer can charge anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 a month. The hourly rate varies depending on the location of the court, the amount of work involved, and the length of the case. 

Contested child custody cases 

A child custody lawyer’s fee varies depending on the complexity of the case. Typically, a lawyer charges anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000 per case. However, this flat fee does not necessarily translate into quality legal representation. Instead, it is based on the complexity of the case and the amount of work the attorney expects to complete. The state of New York has published minimum and maximum hourly rates for attorneys. Minimum hourly rates in New York were $305, while maximum hourly rates were $380. 

If the custody case is uncontested, the legal fee will generally be a flat fee. Otherwise, it will likely be hourly billing. Many custody attorneys determine their fees during a free consultation. 

Fees for a child custody lawyer in uncontested cases 

Child custody lawyers typically charge on an hourly basis and can charge anywhere from $100 to $300 per hour. However, uncontested cases are often the most affordable choice, as they don’t require depositions and extensive court time. Some cases still require custody assessments or expert witnesses, which may cost money. 

The fees for a child custody lawyer are determined by several factors, including the complexity of the case. In an uncontested case, the legal fees are usually flat and are often determined during the free consultation. In contested cases, however, the fees can be higher and involve additional court appearances, mediators, and depositions. 

Legal fees for a child custody lawyer in contested cases 

Attorney fees are a big part of the child custody case cost, but there are other factors to consider, as well. If the parents are not able to reach an agreement, a contested child custody case can cost more than an uncontested case. This is because a contested child custody case often requires additional mediation, depositions, and court time. You may also be required to hire a child psychologist to provide analysis for the custody case. 

Choosing the right lawyer can be tricky. Not all child custody lawyers are created equal, and you should understand the process before hiring one. Some child custody lawyers will handle the case from beginning to end, while others will take on specific pieces of it.