If you are contemplating divorcing or asking for child support, you are likely thinking about the cost to hire a child support attorney, whether custody mediation is worth it, and how much are the estimated costs for a child custody case in DuPage County? There are many similar questions, and in this blog we will highlight the most common things to consider when deciding how to afford the estimated costs for a child custody case in DuPage County.
Costs to Hire a Child Custody Attorney
Consultation – Each firm will decide whether they want to offer a free or fee-based consultation for a child custody case. Often the free consultations are more of an introduction to the firm's practices and to screen the potential client. A fee-based consultation generally includes an assessment of the facts and legal advice on urgent matters along with a tentative analysis of the facts as provided by the potential client. Free Consultation and Fee-base Consultations are both beneficial, however it is just a first meeting and you will not have your case resolved in one meeting. Setting realistic expectations for the first meeting will help you understand the purpose of that meeting
Initial Retainer – An initial retainer allows a custody attorney to start working on your case with a more in depth analysis of your facts and it will allow the attorney to work on urgent matter and prepare initial paperwork and Petitions to start your matter. The initial retainer, however, will not be sufficient to address all the legal issues in your custody case and you will be expected to sign an Attorney Client Contract which likely contains a provision that the retainer will need to be replenished upon expiration for continued services. The only time a legal matter is handled from beginning to end with only one fee paid is for a flat fee case. Custody cases often cannot be handled for a flat fee as there are too many unpredictable matters and experts that may need to be called upon.
Payment Plans – Custody Attorneys often negotiate payment plans with their clients due to the expensive and high costs of a litigated custody matter. Most of the time, you will need a credit card to back up the payment plan terms and you will need to sign a document authorizing the firm to process the card each month. If you do not have a credit card, there are very few attorneys that will allow a payment plan due to the high risk of not receiving payment for services rendered.
Research Your County and Legal Issue
There a few ways to help you better understand the estimate of costs for a child custody case in DuPage County. Knowledge of your local court rules will help you better understand what the attorney needs to do and what the court is likely to order if there is no agreement, such as a hearing on a proposed parenting plan, custody mediation, the appointment of a GAL, and/or a custody evaluation. You should also understand your Judge assignment and learn how your judge views and handles issues similar to your custody issues. And you should also familiarize yourself with the newly revised case statutes and updated case law to provide you with guidance and realistic expectations for how your custody issue might be resolved. If this all sounds overwhelming, your custody attorney is there to handle the tasks that you can't or do not have time to devote.
Things to Consider
A few things to remember when you are trying to estimate costs for your custody case in DuPage County:
- Retainer will not cover your entire case – Often child custody matters are unpredictable and will exceed the initial retainer paid.
- No Guarantees – A child custody lawyer will represent your position that is sound in law and reasonableness, however in litigation, the Judge will make a determination and there are no guarantees the Judge will rule favorably on all of your positions. An attorney can assist you in the best chance for success.
- Parenting Plans Templates – Easy to type up and print today but issues come when the time comes to enforce your provisions to protect your assets or children in Court.
- Multiple Court dates – A Judge will keep a short leash on matters such as Emergency Orders of Protection, Petitions to Restrict Parenting time.
- Experts and GAL's – In many cases additional experts are needed and often agreed upon by attorneys or court ordered. This will drive up your litigation costs, but it will also provide you and the Court valuable information to assist your family.
An estimate of a child custody case in DuPage County can be easily $25,000. Budgeting $2,000 per month for legal fees is not unrealistic. Following the simple advice that more court means more costs can help you determine if court vs. mediation vs. settlement is the best path for your family emotionally, legally, and financially.
Our firm can assess your child custody case and assist you with balancing the emotional, financial, and legal in order to achieve your child custody goals.