how much does a child custody lawyer cost

When you see child custody issues on the horizon, one of your first thoughts might be, How much does a child custody lawyer cost in Texas? If so, you are not alone. Most people’s automatic response is to do an internet search or run numbers to determine what the average lawyer fee is for child custody.

Most attorneys follow the same general model, which requires an upfront retainer payment. The lawyer then bills you hourly, taking payment from the retainer until it is exhausted. After that, the attorney may request another retainer and repeat the process until the matter is resolved—or they can bill hourly and send you a periodic invoice. 

Because some of the best attorneys in Texas are comparable in price, you’ll want to research their case results, testimonials from past clients, and any awards or recognitions before choosing a child custody lawyer. Cost can only be so important when something as serious as restructuring a family is at stake. 

What to Expect from a Child Custody Lawyer

A child custody lawyer ideally helps you through one of the toughest times in your life by providing invaluable legal insights, advice, and representation. An experienced attorney can assist you in more areas than one. Our family law attorneys can assist you with:

All of these matters may be difficult to handle alone and without any experience. 

Why Are Child Custody Lawyers Expensive?

With the average attorney’s fees for a child custody case costing thousands of dollars, it is understandable that many people consider foregoing legal representation. However, if you are unfamiliar with the court system, handling your own case could cost you a lot more than money. Because so much is at stake, you should strongly consider hiring a child custody attorney. Fees for attorneys vary due to:

  • The attorney’s experience;
  • The lawyer’s reputation within the community; and
  • The complexity of the matter.

And on top of paying your lawyer’s fees, you would be responsible for any extraneous fees that become a necessary part of your case. Such fees include the cost of:

  • Expert witnesses,
  • Private investigators,
  • Court reporters,
  • Transcripts,
  • Process servers, and
  • Any other necessary fees that come up.

There are often many moving parts to family law cases, and you may not need an expert witness or private investigator. The unique circumstances surrounding your case determine the additional services needed for a successful case.

Who Pays Attorney Fees in Child Custody Cases in Texas?

So your first question is likely, How much does it cost for a custody lawyer in Texas? But after getting a few quotes, most people wonder if there is any way around paying attorney’s fees. Sometimes the court awards one party reasonable attorney fees. For example, if John is behind on child support, a court may award his co-parent, Jane, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. After all, John’s delinquency necessitated court action—so why should Jane pay the price of John’s wrongful actions?

However, it is far more common for the court to require both parties to pay their own attorney’s fees. 

What Are My Rights As a Parent?

When it comes to child custody and establishing parental rights, the court’s primary concern is the best interests of the child. The court must first establish which parent will retain custody of the child and decision-making authority. This is referred to as conservatorship in Texas. Under state law, the court must make decisions on conservatorship without regard to the parent’s gender or marital status. The court appoints parents as joint managing conservators unless there is a clear reason why that would not be in the child’s best interests. 

We Can Help

Child custody matters often become contentious and complex. The Stout Law Firm, PLLC, has a team of highly experienced Houston-based family law attorneys. Angela Stout has over a decade of experience in complex cases. She quickly rose to the top of her field, being named a “Texas Super Lawyer” for five years consecutively from 2017 to 2021. Jelena Kovacevic is devoted to all areas of family law and was also named a “Texas Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, in 2021. Katie Flynn is passionate about the field of family law, having obtained her start with the Harris County Attorney’s Office in the Child Protective Division in 2006. Thus, Ms. Flynn has years of concentrated experience in the termination of parental rights and adoption of children and serves on the board of the Advocacy Center for Children in Galveston County. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

Angela Stout

Angela A. Stout was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2007. Ms. Stout has practiced law since 2007, with an emphasis in representing clients in family law matters. She earned her Juris Doctorate degree from South Texas College of Law in May of 2007. Ms. Stout became Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in December of 2015. The Texas Board of Legal Specialization is a specialized group of attorneys that must obtain exceptional experience in a specific area of law, pass a comprehensive exam, and complete ongoing continuing legal education in that specialized area. Additionally, Ms. Stout is certified as a mediator by the A.A. White Dispute Resolution Center.


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