It may be beneficial for those involved in child custody cases to hire a qualified child custody attorney, particularly if the child's other parent also has legal representation. This section includes an article explaining how a lawyer can help with you achieve your custody or visitation goals, along with access to a directory of custody and visitation attorneys in your state, county, city or metropolitan area. Additionally, you will find general information to help you get the most out of using an attorney, like details on how fee agreements work, legal fees, and other matters related to hiring lawyers.
Using an Attorney for Custody or Visitation: Overview
Child custody is almost always a high-stakes process, involving welfare and living arrangements of one's own flesh and blood. Emotions typically run high during these proceedings, although the actual decisions and eventual court order are based on the interpretation of specific laws. Therefore, it usually makes sense to hire a child custody attorney (or divorce lawyer), who can remain calm and focused on the details of your case. And if the other party has legal representation, you're really at a disadvantage if you decide to go without a lawyer.
Common Legal Issues Pertaining to Custody Cases
There are certain issues that custody cases always address -- primarily, where the child will live and what the visitation schedule will entail. Both parents usually retain legal custody of the child, but courts are hesitant to award split physical custody, which can create a hardship for children. Usually the child lives primarily with one parent and then visits the other parent on alternating weekends and holidays.
Custody can get a little more complicated when the parents are unable to work together on a parenting plan, for example, or in the case of a parent's substance abuse problems. The judge will consider whether any of these factors impact the child's best interests and to what extent. If one of the parents wants to move to another state (or needs to in order to secure employment), it further complicates matters.
But other legal issues that an attorney can help address include the tax implications of a custody order; determining which court has jurisdiction over the case; and the visitation rights of grandparents, to name a few. Every case is at least a little unique, often requiring the experienced hand of a lawyer.
Legal Fees, Legal Costs, and Fee Agreements
Regardless of the legal issue at hand, you want to make sure you fully understand the fee agreement and how your attorney will charge for his or her services. Legal fees are determined by the arrangement; so make sure you understand how it will ultimately affect your pocketbook before you agree. Your attorney may has a fixed hourly fee, a contingency fee, a flat fee for the entire process, or some other kind of arrangement.
In addition, you will be billed for various legal costs. These are the extra things an attorney pays for in the course of his or her work on your case, such as paralegal time, postal charges, photocopying, consultants, travel expenses, and court reporter costs. Such costs should be itemized on your bill.
Click on a link below to learn more about getting legal help with a child custody case.