In our last blog post, we began to discuss the topic of the costs of a child custody case. Specifically, we went over concerns you may be having in advance of a child custody case, as well as how a family law attorney bills clients. The initial charge for a child custody case with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, is a retainer fee. You’ll notice that we do not charge for an initial consultation. In one of these consultations, you can ask questions about your case, our office, and anything else you would like. We want you to feel knowledgeable and confident as you begin your search for an attorney to represent you and your family.
Today we will continue that discussion with additional information that you will hopefully find helpful in your search for a family law attorney. For starters- what if you cannot afford to pay an entire retainer fee before your case is set to begin?
Can you pay the retainer fee in installments?
I can tell you that depending on what attorney you are interested in hiring to represent you in your child custody case, the amount of the retainer fee can vary significantly. What can be even more confusing is that it is not always a situation where the more you play, the more you get as far as service is concerned. Some great attorneys charge an arm and a leg for a retainer, and some bad attorneys likely charge an arm and a leg as well. Your job as a consumer of legal services is to interview as many attorneys as you can, identify what it will cost to hire each, and decide who you feel comfortable with and whose price-point suits your budget the best.
If you are in a position where you are unable to pay a family law attorney’s retainer fee comfortably, then you should know that most people are in the same position as you. The majority of families do not have a few thousand dollars lying around for use in a situation like this. Cuts in the family budget will likely need to be made elsewhere to allow you to have the money necessary to hire your attorney.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will typically ask for the entirety of the retainer to be paid upfront in a lump sum. We do this for a few reasons. The most important is that we want to begin working on your case immediately. Research, draft, and file your documents in court will take time for the attorney you are working with. As a result, we will need to make sure you have paid your retainer in full so that the attorney can be paid for the work performed. Without a full retainer, we may have to wait until you develop the remaining portion before beginning your case.
If you know ahead of time that you will have trouble coming up with the entire retainer fee for our office, please let our staff know. This does not mean that there is no way that we can take your case. We can discuss your circumstances and see if there is any middle ground that can be reached as far as payment is concerned. We would be honored to represent you and your family and know that costs are high when considering what sort of child custody case you can pursue.
Minimize costs by attempting to settle issues with your ex-spouse
If your goal is to minimize the costs of your child custody case (and why wouldn’t you want to do this), it is a good idea to approach your case with settlement in mind. Not every case will allow you to resolve the outstanding issues before a trial but many wills. What you and your ex-spouse could not agree to before your child custody case was filed are often issues that can be worked out with the assistance of your attorneys.
Wait, what was that last statement that I made? That attorney can HELP your case settle rather than proceed into a long, seemingly endless march towards a distant trial? Despite what people like to think about attorneys, we want your case resolved with as little strife and argument as possible. It does you no good as a client to go through the stress and difficulties of a child custody case when a settlement is possible. It does us, as your attorney, have no reason to devote time, money, and resources to a case that should be settled early in the process.
Additionally, you are hiring an attorney to put someone between you and your ex-spouse. It is easy to get upset, emotional, and downright angry at your ex-spouse when there is an issue related to your child. The history between the two of you may make it so that you cannot communicate well and cannot work together amicably to settle your issues on your own. Hiring an attorney allows you to filter your frustrations through another person who can often work out the issues with your assistance.
If you cannot solve the issues informally with your attorney helping out, what other methods are out there to help you minimize the costs of your child custody case?
Cost Cutting Tip: Attend mediation (more than once if you have to)
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, are big proponents of mediation. Mediation is where you and your ex-spouse (plus your attorneys) attend a settlement negotiation session at the mediator’s office. With each party in their room at the office, the mediator acts as a ping pong ball and bounces back and forth between the rooms communicating settlement offers. Along the way, your mediator can let you know how strong your arguments are and how a judge is likely to rule.
The majority of the time, the mediator you choose will be a family law attorney herself so that she can offer her perspective on any issues involved in your case. For instance, if you and your attorney are convinced that a judge would rule in your favor regarding an increase of child support, but you’ve failed to consider a particular issue, the mediator can point this out to you. Most mediators have experienced attorneys and have had cases with most judges in your area. This is an invaluable resource to tap into, as well as a money-saving tool that you should explore in your custody case.
Prepare in advance for your child custody case.
If you can begin collecting any documents relevant to your child custody case in advance, this will save time and save you money. Your attorney will need to read through these documents, so the better you can organize them, the less time will be spent doing so by your attorney. Having them ready at the outset of your case can save your attorney the trouble of waiting on you to collect them as your case proceeds, and other issues arise as well.
Representatives and advocates for southeast Texas families: The Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you are considering whether or not to pursue a child custody case, please consider contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free consultations with one of our licensed family law attorneys and meet with you six days a week. We represent families across our community and would be honored to speak to you about your situation.