Going through a child custody case is nobody’s idea of a good time. A child custody case will test your resolve, the relationships in your life, and quite possibly your pocketbook. When you consider that the effects of a child custody case will impact your life for some years to come it should come as no surprise that there is a certain level of stress that will also accompany the case. Needless to say, there are going to be some challenges that come with the case that you don’t anticipate, as well. Such is a child custody case in Texas. Be prepared for that which you cannot prepare for.
Here you are, contemplating that child custody case that you have putting off for a few months now. You and your son’s father have not been communicating well lately. He works weird hours but does not make it easy for you to get a hold of him. Usually, it’s not important things that you want to discuss but helping you with some child support or coordinating the next time he gets to see your child would be nice to talk about from time to time. Now, he pretty much just comes by the house to drop off some money, see your son, and leave some diapers behind. It’s better than nothing but it’s not ideal for your son.
Now that your son is about to turn one you figure it’s as good a time as any to file that child custody case you’ve had in mind. You don’t know what to do, however. You work as a receptionist at a law firm but do not know family law or child custody issues. You ask one of the senior partners at your firm about where to ask questions associated with family law cases. He answers that among Houston area attorneys, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is held in high esteem. Why not go speak to them about your situation?
So you agree- and make a phone call to speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. It does not take much effort to get a hold of one of our attorneys. Whether you are a current client or a prospective client trying to learn more about your particular case we want to make ourselves as accessible as possible. You can meet with one of our attorneys at no charge- over the phone, via video, or in person at one of our six Houston and Texas area office locations. When you come in to meet with us we know that you may never have sat down with an attorney before about your case.
Preparing for a family law case means looking at issues that a relevant to your family not only now but in the future. With so much at stake and with the variables ever changing it can feel like there is the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You see your little boy grow up in the way that he has and you want to do as much as you can to care for him and ensure his success in life. With that backdrop, you take a long lunch and sit down with an attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to find out more about what you can expect in a child custody case.
#1: Find out how you are going to pay for your case
Being able to map out a plan for how you are going to afford to pay for your case is critical for your success and that of your son. Unfortunately, many people in your shoes jump into the case without a plan for how you are going to pay for your case. A family law case has a cost associated with it. This is true no matter the nature of your child custody situation. If you are going to file a child custody case you owe it to yourself to learn the answer to this question.
Certainly, it makes sense to get your finances in order when you are trying to accomplish big goals for you and your son. To start a process like this but to not have a plan when it comes to finishing the job puts you in a very precarious position. Your noble goals can’t be achieved without a long-term plan for financial success in completing the case. If you were to ask one of our attorneys about a great goal in planning your case we would tell you that there are several points to understand before hitting the ground running in a child custody case.
Family law attorneys bill by the hour. This is different than in many other areas of the law. You should ask an attorney that you are interested in hiring about how much they and their staff bill hourly. Depending upon the experience level of the attorney and other factors, different attorneys at the office who may be working on your case could charge different hourly rates. Without knowing what the average hourly rate for a family law attorney in your area is you may want to meet with a handful of lawyers to get an idea about what is the average fee for lawyers. This way can have some context when you meet with a lawyer.
Next, you can ask an attorney how much he or she expects your family law case to cost. This is a reasonable question to ask, after all. In any other area of your life, you would ask this question. Whether you are starting a renovation on your home or trying to figure out how much a vacation is going to cost, asking about the costs before signing up for the journey is a reasonable thing to ask. Without being able to know how much the case is going to cost you there is still some uncertainty that you would probably be feeling.
Very few attorneys would give you a specific number as a focal point for the overall costs of your case. The reason is that there are so many factors to consider when thinking about the costs of child custody that it wouldn’t be prudent to give a specific estimate of the costs associated with your case. Rather, you are more likely to receive a range of costs that could have been a part of your case. A low end and a high end. This is how an attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would be more likely to answer your questions, as well.
Whether yours is likely to be a high dollar or more moderately priced case, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a plan to pay for your case. The old-fashioned method of using cash to pay for your case would be ideal. You would not incur debt, would have peace of mind knowing that you have the costs covered, and wouldn’t need to rely upon others for financing the case. However, the costs of your case may make this an option that you cannot pursue. This is especially true if you have not had much time to prepare for and save for a case like this.
Other options include putting the case on a credit card, relying upon a family member for financial assistance, or using a legal funding service to help you with the costs. Whatever you decide to do it is a course of action that you need to consider thoroughly. Think about each option and what each stands to benefit you the most. It may be that a combination of methods to pay for your case may be used by you. Whatever choice you make be sure that you have thought it through and acted intentionally.
#2: Develop goals associated with the case
You may be surprised to learn that many people who begin a family law case do so without having thought through what they want to accomplish in the case. Imagine opening the front door to your house and beginning a walk down your street. You reach the outskirts of your neighborhood and just keep going. Eventually, you get to the outer limits of your city or town with no real plan in mind other than to walk as far as you can for as long as you can. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but it would make more sense for you to have a plan thought out before using your time and effort in that way.
When you come in and sit down with one of our attorneys to discuss your case we would tell you that it is a very good idea to have some plans in mind when you start a child custody case. We would likely go so far as to say that it is essential for you to have some goals before your case begins. Why file a case or answer a case filed by your co-parent if you have no goals to speak of? You’d probably just stay home and assume that your co-parent will figure something out in the case that works well for you and your child.
If you are the parent who will be filing the lawsuit then you have more time to think about what your goals may be. Go through the life of your child and begin by considering how a child custody case can benefit him the most. What is in his best interests, in other words? Let’s go back to the example that we had been discussing at the beginning of today’s blog post. You had issues with receiving inconsistent child support. You also had no idea when the next time your child would see your co-parent would be. What does that tell you?
First, you need to know about child support. Of course, raising a child costs money and you should want your co-parent to contribute to the effort. Unfortunately, different parents take different levels of interest in contributing to the financial well-being of their children. Some parents have to twist their arms (s) to have them pay their fair share towards the day-to-day lifestyle and needs of their little ones. That doesn’t mean that your co-parent doesn’t love or care for your child. What it does mean is that translating that love into financial support can be a challenge.
Outside of the courts, there isn’t much in the way of external motivators that you can use to help get your co-parent motivated to pay support. Other than showing him how the day-to-day needs of your child are not being met without the support, when there is no court order in place your co-parent technically does not need to pay anything in child support. That he is choosing to pay something at this point in the case is a nice gesture but your monthly budget may require more. This is where the filing of a child custody case makes a lot of sense.
When you can come up with specific goals for child support that means adding predictability to your budget. It also means that your child can come to depend upon having all the essentials in life because of having child support set up. When you have a child support order established then you can expect to receive a consistent amount of support on a predictable schedule. You can contribute to your child’s overall well-being by a significant amount when you have thought through your specific goals and put those to paper.
Second, the next goal you may have set out for yourself in a child custody case would be to have a predictable schedule set up for the possession and visitation of your child. It is great that your co-parent wants to be an involved parent in the life of your child. On the other hand, it would be nice if you could know when he was going to come by and see your son. What sort of goals would you like to set out for yourself when it comes to possession?
You would likely want to focus on the age of your child (one) and decide how much visitation with your co-parent is appropriate or even possible. After all your son needs to be with you much of the time to eat and you know his nap/feeding schedule better than anyone. Your son sees your co-parent regularly but there isn’t the bond that you would want to hand over extended visitation periods to your co-parent with. This requires some negotiation between you and your co-parent to be able to figure out how to draw up a possession schedule that is in the best interest of your child.
It could be that you want to start with visitation sessions that last no more than just a few hours at a time so your son and your co-parent can adjust to scheduled periods of visitation. Once everyone adjusts to the new schedule you may build in a “stair step” structure where your co-parent could have more extended visitation with your co-parent.
#3: Learn about the benefits of hiring an experienced family law attorney
Finally, you and your child can stand to benefit a great deal when you decide to work with an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. When you are going through a child custody case there is too much at stake for you to risk not hiring an attorney. We recommend seeking out the perspective of multiple attorneys before deciding to hire one. This way you can get a feel for how different attorneys look at a child custody case.
However, we are confident that whether you meet just with our attorneys or with half the family law attorneys in Houston you will end up hiring the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our attorneys not only know the law, the process, and the courts of Texas but we also possess the heart of a teacher. This means that we will seek to provide you with information that you can use to make decisions for your child that are in his best interests. Having the heart of a teacher means that we will not try to dictate to you what you should do in the case. Rather, we will help you to understand the context, the law, and your case so that you can make informed decisions.
Thank you for spending time with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan on our blog today. No matter where you stand in a family law case, we would like you to know that you have options when it comes to legal representation. We are confident that our attorneys are what you need to secure the best results possible for your child.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.