What is the sound of one hand clapping? What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? How much does a custody lawyer cost? Some questions cannot be answered.
On One Hand: Attorneys’ Hourly Fees
The Zen Koan about one hand clapping is meant to enlighten the reader and follower, eventually to transcend all sounds and find “the soundless sound.” The physics problem of an unstoppable force and immovable object is meant to provoke deeper thinking, leading eventually to relativity and quantum mechanics.
And the custody case? How is that meant to get to a deeper purpose? On the one hand, you can know an attorney’s hourly fees. On the other hand, you can never know how long a case may take, what the opposing party will do (or not do), or what other professional help may be necessary.
A good family law attorney’s office is more than a single attorney. Your custody case may require additional resources. What if records need to be gathered? What if financial information needs to be uncovered?
Jobs require specific skills. If your case needs an investigator, that investigator’s cost would be paid directly by you, not the law firm. No law firm could get away with charging as much per hour for a paralegal as for an investigator, so your custody case costs cannot be pinned down with certainty before the case begins. Your case may need 40 hours of a paralegal’s time, while another custody case needs only 10 hours.
A custody case involves more than determining who should have primary physical custody of your child. It means all this:
- Who can provide the more stable, financially secure household?
- Who has the resources to maintain your children in the way of life they are accustomed to, to minimize disruption?
- Who has demonstrated good parenting, honesty with the family, and good morals?
An investigator may be an unstoppable force for uncovering reasons your ex-wife does not deserve custody. This can be grim, unappealing work, but it may be necessary to your case. Actions taken by the other party (the children’s mother or grandparents) may mean higher fees for your defense. Your attorney cannot control the actions of the opposing side.
A paralegal handles research, arranges interrogatories, and monitors the flow of paperwork for a custody case. And, of course, a process server will serve notice to all parties of court filings and petitions.
These unstoppable forces work on your behalf, to both defend your custody rights and erode your ex-wife’s arguments.
Custody is Child Centered
Custody is, at its heart, about your children. While you may want to fight tooth and nail to win physical custody, you simultaneously must do nothing to upset or disrupt your children’s lives. You and your attorney need to keep your legal team focused on what is best for your children.
Sometimes that is difficult, especially if your ex-wife is prepared to fight you over every step. Do not overlook the several aspects of child custody:
- Physical custody
- Legal custody
- Parenting time and visitation scheduling
- Child support
Your attorney will keep your child’s best interests prominent because that is what the law requires. Code of Virginia § 20-124.3 orders everyone in the child custody case to consider the “best interests of a child for purposes of determining custody or visitation arrangements …”
You can opt for a “cheap” defense, but you will likely cede a lot of ground, meaning you will not win either legal or physical custody, you may sign off on a paltry visitation schedule, and you will be compelled to pay a lot of child support.
You can opt for a more robust defense and pursue a strategy that gives a little in one area (perhaps allowing her to have physical custody) while standing firm in other areas (gaining legal custody, so you must be consulted on legal, educational, and medical decisions).
You could, depending on your ex-wife’s financial and moral situation, pursue a far more aggressive path, working to gain physical and legal custody. Perhaps your wife has an acknowledged drug or alcohol problem; perhaps she has gambling debts, or an arrest record. You and your attorney can select the best path for you, based on your financial resources and desired outcome.
Contested Custody Cost
Contested custody cases can be brutal. One other possibility exists: you or your wife may not contest custody. You may have amicably decided you will keep the marital home, providing the best environment for your children. Uncontested custody cases cost far less than contested cases. You still need the services of a strong, local attorney, but you may find yourself spending far less than with contested custody.
Call the Custody Attorneys for Dads
To begin getting an estimate on your custody case, call The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or contact our offices online. We cannot give a price quote over the phone, but we can set up an appointment for you to come in, talk with a custody attorney, and learn more about custody. We protect Virginia men’s rights every day, and work tirelessly to preserve the father-child bonds frayed by divorce.