When a couple with kids goes through a divorce or separation, they also face the issue of child custody. That usually brings the need for an experienced child custody lawyer. As you research family lawyers and what they can do to help you through your case, you’ll likely wonder how much the lawyer cost will be for a child custody hearing.
How Much is a Child Custody Lawyer?
Navigating the aspects of family law as it pertains to child custody in Ohio requires professional legal counsel dedicated to this intricate area. The legal fees associated with a child custody attorney are not one-size-fits-all. There is no clear-cut number for the cost of hiring a child custody lawyer. That’s because there are a variety of factors and considerations that go into the total price. Let’s talk through them.
Divorce/Custody Case Complexity
Most of the time, child custody orders (also called parenting orders) are one of the most important steps in the larger divorce process for parents of minors. Divorce has a reputation for being expensive, and it often is — especially when it is drawn-out and challenging. The legal and factual complexity of your divorce case will play a role in how much you pay for your child custody lawyer. The more time that is required to be spent on a client’s case=the more it costs.
Each attorney sets their own fees (hourly rates and retainer), and attorney fees make up only a portion of the total expenses associated with child custody case. In general, factors that determine legal fees include:
- The amount of time your lawyer spends on your case
- The attorney’s years of experience and established reputation
- The complexity and length of your case
- Other costs like court fees and overhead costs
- The opposing party and his/her choice of counsel
The most common attorney fee structure used is an hourly fee agreement. The next most common type is a flat fee structure, typically ranging anywhere from $2,500 to $20,000. The fees are decided based on the amount of work the attorney expects to put into the case. Therefore, the more intricate and time-consuming the case is, the higher the fees.
Talk to your family law attorney about their legal fees and how they are structured and determined.
Court and Miscellaneous Fees
Another factor to consider are the fees that go into the physical filing of child custody paperwork in Court. Your local district clerk’s office in the county where you are filing the child custody paperwork will determine the fee for filing. On average, this cost ranges from $100 to $400.
If the case requires a custody evaluation, the price increases. This involves psychological tests, interviews, and professional observations and the cost is anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000, on average.
If mediation is involved, consider the hourly cost of paying the mediator — it’s usually between $100 and $300 per hour.
Often times the Court will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to conduct an investigation and represent the best interests of the minor children. Guardian Ad Litem fees range from $50/hour to $225/hour. A deposit of $800-$2,000 is required to be made before a Guardian will commence his/her investigation. This cost is usually shared between the parties in relation to his/her income.
Another expense is the cost to serve the other parent with paperwork. For a sheriff or a third party process server to serve the other parent, it will cost $30. These small fees can add up quickly, especially if they are required more than once.
Overall, it’s not unusual for child custody battles to cost thousands of dollars. How much a lawyer costs for child custody depends on a variety of factors, the most influential being the complexity and length of the case. The more time the attorney spends on your case, the more you will pay.
To get a clearer picture of how much a lawyer costs for child custody, ask for this information at your initial consultation. It’s important to at least get an idea of the costs associated with this major endeavor as early in the process as possible.
Columbus Ohio Divorce and Custody Lawyer
The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Kline LLC is honored to work with both traditional and non-traditional families to assist them through extraordinarily difficult times. Please contact us with any questions.