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How Much Does a Child Custody Lawyer Cost?

How Much Does a Child Custody Lawyer Cost?

Does child custody lawyer cost? A very common question. If you’re going through a separation and need a court decision on the custody of the child, a child custody lawyer can ease your process. However, a child custody lawyer can vary according to the type of service the lawyer will provide. But, having a child custody lawyer is very helpful as the lawyer specializes in child custody practices and can uphold the right to physical and legal custody of the child by the parent.

Lawyers specializing in family matters can provide a wide range of services that includes divorce, parenthood, adoption, guardianship, and modification of previous child custody order. The cost of the child custody lawyer can start from $3,000 and go up to $20,000, depending on a lot of factors. There are also a few types of hiring procedures of child custody lawyers. And the cost of a child custody lawyer can alter depending on some other miscellaneous factors. Let’s know how much does a child custody lawyer cost.

Factors Affecting Cost of Child Custody Lawyer

  • Amount of time given for the case
  • Experience, ability, the reputation of the lawyer
  • Difficulty and originality of the case- can vary $1,500-$6,000 on an hourly basis
  • Miscellaneous costs (rent, utilities, etc.)

Other factors

  • Contested vs. uncontested divorce- can vary $100-$300 on an hourly basis
  • Length of each court hearings and the trial
  • Witness number
  • In the case of abuse or harassment, the appointment of Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)
  • In the case of being absent in court presence, one parent might be ordered to pay the lawyer fees of the other parent
  • The previous agreement between the two parents
  • Modification of any previous child custody order

How much does a child custody lawyer cost?

Consultation fee

It is the fee that a child custody lawyer charges for the first meeting. It can also be referred to as the visiting fee. And it applies in the case if the parent doesn’t have a family lawyer before the case. Also, lawyers don’t always charge this fee.

Depending on the type and length of the case, they might waver the fee. This fee can range from $100-$550, depending on the total consulting time provided by the lawyer.

Flat fee agreement

A flat fee agreement is offered to and charged by the child custody lawyer upon the overall completion of the case. There is an agreement between the child custody lawyer and the involved parties over the total amount of the lawyer. The lawyer is paid once the case has a verdict, and a total sum usually involves all kinds of fees of the lawyer.

A child custody lawyer charges a flat fee in specific situations. If the type is being uncontested divorce, the lawyer agrees on a flat fee. Also, flat fee agreements suggest the case to be simple and straightforward. This means there is less scope for extra and miscellaneous costs.

The total flat fee can be in the range of $1,200 to $4,500. Or if the case is complicated and still the parents want to deal with a flat fee, the amount could jump up to $20,000. The amount also depends on the experience, reputation, and ability of the child custody lawyer. 

Read Also: When does Child Support End in Canada?

Hourly rate

Hourly rate agreements are the most common and widely used in child custody cases. Lawyers charge a fixed amount of charge for each hour of service, consultancy, and effort provided. Usually, the amount ranges from $150 to $200. The amount varies depending on the complexity and the novelty of the case.

Also, lawyers charge different hourly amounts depending on the type of service being provided. One amount is charged for consultancy, an unusual amount is charged for legal research and evidence collection. Court hearings can be more than the range of amount mentioned as it requires extreme professionalism and hard work from the lawyer’s perspective.

Referral fee

Referral means that one lawyer is referring to the involved parties to seek assistance from another lawyer. It happens in cases where the parents want to file different lawsuits related to divorce, such as abuse, domestic violence, or maybe finance-related issues. When a lawyer refers to another lawyer, the lawyer might charge a portion of the total fee instead of loading the whole amount.

Retainer fee

It is structured as a down payment system by keeping the child custody lawyer on call. In most cases, a fixed amount of money is kept in a bank account, and money is withdrawn when particular costs are incurred. This is usually calculated on the hourly rate of a lawyer. This fee is decided in exceptional cases, and usually financially stable parties opt for this system.

Legal fee

This is the amount of money needed for the legal procedure of the court and case filing. It can range from $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the type of case. However, with the complexity and length of the case, this amount can rise to $35,000. 

Read Also: How the Uniform Child Custody Works?

Miscellaneous fees

The extra costs that include are totaled as miscellaneous costs, and this cost is usually unpredictable. The fee also depends on various factors like the number of witnesses, availability of evidence, distance to the court from the lawyer’s place, and distance to the parent’s place from the lawyer’s place.

There could be a cost of a booking of about $12-$100. There could be filling fees that some lawyers charge that could be $5-$150. There could be therapy-related costs. There could be costs that could not be determined. Both the involved party should be prepared for these additional costs.


Parents going for separation should spend time researching how much does a child custody lawyer cost before hiring a lawyer for their case. In most cases, the type of divorce and the relationship between the child and the parent determines the kind of case in the court, and the lawyer charges accordingly.

It is important to “shop” for lawyers before deciding on someone, just like we shop for clothes or utilities by screening different options in supermarkets. Hiring a competent child custody lawyer would prove vital in the court order of child custody, despite the expenses related to the lawyer’s cost.