Of all the potential legal issues in a divorce, custody of the minor children is the most likely to turn contentious. It is also the most likely to rear its head again long after the divorce is over. While it is true that some parents fight for custody out of spite or for other less than honorable motives, most custody battles involve two parents who both believe they are doing what is best for the children. For a father, several factors typically go into deciding whether to fight for custody. One of those factors is the cost involved in seeking custody. If you are thinking about seeking custody of your minor children, you undoubtedly want to know how much child custody attorneys charge. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to that question; however, it may help to know some common factors that impact what child custody attorneys usually charge.
In the State of Texas, the term “child custody” is not used. Instead, the term “conservatorship” is used. The parents of a minor child may share joint conservatorship or one parent may be the sole managing conservator. As the sole managing conservator, you would have the authority to make important decisions regarding the child, such as what school the child attends or what medical treatment the child receives, without the need to consult with the other parent. “Possession and access” is the other important term a parent needs to know when a divorce involves minor children as it refers to where the children live and when they will spend time with the non-custodial parent.
Whether you have yet to file for divorce, are already in the middle of a divorce, or have already been through a divorce, the decision to pursue custody of your minor children is not one that should be made lightly. Once made, you can probably plan on the ensuing litigation to be ugly – and potentially costly. Because every law firm sets its own fees, you will likely find a wide range when it comes to the fee charged for a case. It may be helpful, however, to have a better understanding of the common factors that will likely impact the fee charged, such as:
Whether the divorce is pending or this is a post-divorce modification. If the divorce is pending, an attorney will have to take on the entire divorce, not just custody. Typically, that means more work than petitioning for a modification where the only issue is custody.
Whether you are petitioning for conservatorship or you are defending a petition. If the children have been living with one parent for a lengthy period of time, it is usually more difficult to get a judge to agree to change custody absent a very compelling reason. If you are the parent pursuing a change of conservatorship, therefore, you are probably fighting an uphill battle.
Special issues involved, such as accusations of abuse or neglect. When there are accusations such as abuse, neglect, or domestic violence, a custody case can get very ugly very fast. Sometimes those accusations, if easily proved, make the case easier; however, more often than not they tend to drag out a case and take up more time.
The size of the firm. Big firms tend to charge big fees, plain and simple. They have more overhead and more expenses. Yes, they have more lawyers but you only need one lawyer to win your case.
Opposing counsel. In some cases, the attorney representing the other parent will directly impact your fee. Some lawyers are known for being more aggressive than others while other may be known for seeking amicable agreements. When opposing counsel is likely to fight dirty, it will increase the fee whereas an opposing counsel known for being reasonable may decrease a client’s fee.
If you have additional questions or concerns about child custody or conservatorship in the State of Texas, contact the experienced child custody attorneys at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd to schedule your appointment today.