How Much Does a Family Law Attorney Cost?
The costs associated with hiring a family law attorney for your court case.
The cost of a family law attorney varies based on several factors, including the type of case, your location, and the complexity of the case. Each of these elements impact the fee structure and expenses associated with hiring a family law attorney. To help you calculate how much your court case might cost, we’ve outlined what you should expect to spend on a lawyer.
Family law attorney cost by common case types
Child custody case
The national average cost of a child custody lawyer is $250 an hour, but fees can range considerably:
- Average cost range of a child custody lawyer: $225-$325 an hour
- Low-end cost range of a child custody lawyer: $150-$195 an hour
- High-end cost range of a child custody lawyer: $350-$400 an hour
Marriage dissolution case
On average, divorce lawyers charge $3,000 to $5,000 as a retainer fee to get started on a case, plus an additional $300-$500 an hour. Sometimes lawyers subtract hours spent on your case from the retainer fee first, and then charge you their hourly rate once those funds are used up. Whether the divorce is contested or uncontested also has an impact on the complexity of the case, which will impact the overall cost.
Child support case
Child support attorneys generally bill $100 to $500 an hour. Typically, a child support case will cost anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000, but that total can be greater if the lawyer is dealing with particularly complicated or high-conflict case.
Attorney’s fees for guardianship cases vary significantly based on the situation. However, on average, you can expect to pay $3,000 or more for a guardianship lawyer.
There are many other types of family law cases, such as paternity, protection orders against domestic violence, termination of parental rights, and more. Fee structures for these cases are similar to the ones outlined above and can be used as a reference when calculating estimated costs.
Family law attorney cost by location
The cost of hiring a lawyer also varies based on your location in the U.S. See how the average cost of a family law attorney varies by state:
Family law attorney cost by case complexity
The last major factor that impacts the cost of a family law attorney is the complexity of your case. As you probably noticed, most family law attorneys charge by the hour, even if a retainer or flat rate fee is involved. The hourly fee structure makes it more costly to hire a family law attorney for cases that are contentious. The same goes for cases that require a lengthy evidence gathering process.
Family law cases often require meticulous evidence gathering on the client’s part, particularly in child custody battles and child support disputes. If you and your attorney are forced to sift through dozens of messages and documents across various messaging platforms, phone calls, calendars, and expense-sharing services, you will quickly wrack up dozens of additional hourly attorney’s fees. For court cases like this, use of a co-parenting communication service like TalkingParents is key to cutting costs.
TalkingParents keeps all communications and coordination between you and your co-parent in one, secure place, streamlining the evidence gathering process. Your attorney can easily reference your message strings and call transcripts through features like Secure Messaging and Accountable Calling. TalkingParents also offers a Shared Calendar tool for co-parents to coordinate schedules and the Accountable Payments feature to share expenses, giving your lawyer access to all this information within one platform.
Should you end up in a custody dispute, keeping all communications and coordination regarding your child in a central location can save your attorney hours of time, in turn, saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars in legal fees. For more information, click here.