How Much Does a Child Support Lawyer Cost?
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Child Support Lawyers: Costs, Services, and Benefits

Last Updated: June 15, 2023

When two people decide to end their relationship and minor children are involved, it sometimes raises child support issues. Whether these issues are worked out through a Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program or the courts system, the expertise of a child support lawyer can help ensure that everyone's best interests are represented.

Child support lawyers can be hired by a custodial or noncustodial parent. Their fees can be based on either a per-hour or flat-fee basis. To find out more about child support attorneys and how much they cost, continue reading.

How Much Does a Child Support Lawyer Cost? #

Generally speaking, a child support attorney may charge anywhere from $200 to $600 per hour. In an uncontested case, the total fees might average around $2,500 to $5,000. But, for contested cases that lead to a court battle. Legal fees could end up costing $5,000 to $25,000 and up.

Depending on your situation and the child support issues(s) to be worked out, you may also want to hire a lawyer on a flat-fee basis to perform specific tasks. For example, a child support lawyer might charge $1,000 to $2,000 to do a standard support modification.

It's common for lawyers to ask for a retainer fee, which is an amount of money that is paid up front and based on the expected cost of the case. If your charges exceed the retainer fee amount, you will be required to pay more.

In cases where the total charges are less than the retainer fee, you may be reimbursed the difference. Although, some retainers may be nonrefundable.

In addition to child support attorney fees you may have to pay for court fees, travel expenses, paralegal services, copying, faxing, and more. Make sure that you are clear on what is, and isn't, included in your legal fees. Have a contract drawn up that specifies how billing works before any case work begins so there are no unexpected charges.

Reasons to Hire a Child Support Attorney #

Even when a breakup or divorce is amicable, child support laws are complicated and can be difficult for a layman to navigate. Under typical circumstances, a lawyer can provide help with the following matters:

  • Legally establishing paternity
  • Completing and filing the correct child support paperwork
  • Obtaining a court order that describes the child support payment terms
  • Making changes to an existing child support agreement
  • Determining child support payment methods
  • Collecting outstanding child support

When any child support issues are disputed, the need for a child support lawyer is even greater. In the interests of time and money, it is best for both parties involved to settle the matter out of court.

This is often done through negotiations between the parties' family law attorneys, although alternative forms of dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration may also be used.

If an out-of-court settlement is not reached, the case will go to trial, and a child support attorney will act on your behalf in every necessary capacity.

How Are Child Support Payments Calculated #

Child support payments are typically calculated using a formula or guidelines established by the jurisdiction's laws. Below are a few hypothetical examples:

Example 1:
Let's assume a situation where the non-custodial parent's monthly income is $4,000, and they have one child. The custodial parent's income is $2,000 per month. In this example, the child support calculation might involve a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income. The exact percentage will depend on the specific laws in your jurisdiction, but for demonstration purposes, let's assume it is 20%.

Non-custodial parent's monthly income: $4,000
Percentage used for child support calculation: 20%

Child support payment:
$4,000 (income) × 0.20 (percentage) = $800 per month

Example 2:
Consider another scenario where the non-custodial parent's monthly income is $8,000, and they have two children. The custodial parent's income is $3,000 per month. Let's assume the child support calculation involves a sliding scale, with a higher percentage applied to higher income brackets. Again, the exact percentages will depend on your jurisdiction.

Non-custodial parent's monthly income: $8,000
Number of children: 2

Child support payment (hypothetical calculation):
Income bracket 1 (up to $5,000): $5,000 × 0.20 = $1,000
Income bracket 2 (remaining income above $5,000): $3,000 × 0.25 = $750
Total child support payment: $1,000 + $750 = $1,750 per month

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