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How Much Does a New York City Child Custody Lawyer Cost?



If you have kids and are divorcing or breaking up with your spouse or partner, you probably have a lot of questions about New York city child custody arrangements. One of your questions may be much a child custody lawyer costs. This article will help explain how lawyers in custody cases bill for their time.

Child Custody Issues in New York

In child custody cases, there are a lot of things to consider. New York courts will take into account the best interests of your child or children. In New York City child custody cases, judges can look at a variety of factors to determine custody.

New York has its own set of laws regarding child custody, so it’s important to find an attorney with family law experience. Under the law, you can have a New York City joint custody or sole custody arrangement. With a New York City shared custody arrangement, both parents share the rights and responsibilities of raising their children.

Your particular family situation and custody goals may impact how much your lawyer charges. A complicated case or bitter custody battle between you and your children’s other parent can stretch on for a long time, and your attorney will probably charge more. But fees and rates can vary significantly, so you will need to specifically ask how and how much a child custody lawyer charges.

How New York City Child Custody Lawyers Bill

Some lawyers use an hourly rate to bill. With an hourly rate approach, a lawyer you for the actual time he spends on your child custody case.

If you talk to several lawyers, you may notice that hourly fees can range significantly. This is usually based on a number of factors, including how much experience the attorney has and whether he has a reputation for successfully helping clients in custody cases.

Education matters, too. A child custody lawyer who graduated from Columbia Law School and has spent decades practicing family will charge more than an attorney who has just graduated from law school.

In New York, of course, location will also make a difference. A lawyer with a big office at a fashionable address in Manhattan will charge more than someone who works out of a small office in the Bronx.

Lawyers who charge by the hour usually bill in six- or 15-minute increments. Your New York City child custody lawyer will bill you every time he works on your case or talks to you on the phone. If your lawyer bills in 15-minute increments, you will be billed for 15 minutes when your lawyer spends 14 minutes on your case, or for 30 minutes if your lawyer spends 16 minutes responding to an email from you.

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.

In some situations, child custody lawyers might charge a flat fee, where you pay one fee upfront. This is usually true when you and your spouse or partner already agree on most aspects of your child custody arrangement ahead of time and are mainly looking for help filing paperwork with the court. 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 about Attorney Billing

When interviewing an attorney, you should specifically ask questions about his billing practices:

  • What type of fee do you charge?
  • What exactly is that fee?
  • What is extra, such as filing fees?
  • What do you estimate will be the total cost to handle my New York City child custody proceeding?
  • What kind of retainer or upfront fee do you expect when you take my case?
  • How payment methods do you accept?
  • How often do you bill?

Once you understand the costs and fees a lawyer charges to handle your child custody case in New York, you will be better able to select the right lawyer to work with.