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How Much Does a Washington, D.C., Child Custody Lawyer Cost?



If you have children and are getting a divorce, you are probably wondering how Washington, D.C., child custody works. You are also probably wondering how much a child custody lawyer charges to help you with your case. This article will explain how Washington, D.C., family law attorneys in custody cases bill for their time.

Child Custody in the District of Columbia

There are many factors that can determine child custody. According to Washington, D.C., child custody guidelines, the court will take into account the best interests of your child or children. Washington, D.C., child custody orders can address legal custody as well as physical custody.

In D.C. custody cases, judges can look at a variety of factors to determine custody. A knowledgeable child custody attorney will guide you through the process and work to ensure that the child custody agreement the court approves is the best one for your family.

How Washington, D.C., Child Custody Lawyers Bill

Lawyers’ rates can vary significantly. Some lawyers bill by the hour. With an hourly rate fee, a lawyer charges a set amount for the actual time he spends on your child custody case.

Different family law attorneys may charge different rates. The amount an attorney charges by the hour can depend on how much experience he has and whether he has a reputation for successfully helping clients in custody cases.

Education also matters. A child custody lawyer who graduated from Georgetown Law may charge more than an attorney who has just graduated from law school.

Lawyers who charge by the hour usually bill in six- or 15-minute increments. A Washington, D.C., child custody lawyer who bills by the hour will charge you every time he works on your case. If your lawyer bills in 15-minute increments, you will be billed for 15 minutes when your lawyer spends 5 minutes on paperwork for your case, or for 30 minutes if your lawyer spends 16 minutes responding to an email you sent.

A lawyer who bills by the hour will probably ask for a deposit, or retainer, upfront and then will bill you regularly as he works on your case.

Your specific situation will impact how much your lawyer charges. A complicated case or bitter custody battle between you and your children’s other parent can last a long time and take a lot of resources. The more your attorney has to work on your behalf, the higher the cost will be.

In some situations, child custody lawyers might charge a flat fee, where you pay one set fee in advance. Lawyers typically charge a flat fee when they can predict how long it will take to handle a case. So you are more likely to find an attorney to accept a flat fee when you and your partner have already agreed on most of your child custody arrangements. In this type of situation, you are probably looking for an attorney to assist you with filing paperwork with the court, rather than someone to help you fight your ex for custody. If your attorney will accept a flat fee, be sure to ask what court costs are included and when the fee has to be paid.

Questions to Ask Washington, D.C., Custody Lawyers

When interviewing a child custody attorney, you should specifically ask questions about his billing practices:

  • What type of fee do you charge?
  • What exactly is that fee?
  • What additional costs will I have to pay?
  • What do you estimate will be the total cost to handle my D.C. child custody proceeding?
  • What kind of retainer or upfront fee do you expect when you take my case?
  • What payment methods do you accept?
  • How often do you bill?

In a Washington, D.C., divorce, child custody will be a major concern. Once you understand the costs and fees a lawyer charges to handle your case, you will be better able to select the right lawyer to work with.