Divorced couple trying to sort through child custody papers

How Much Do Lawyers Cost For Child Custody in North Carolina?

You might wonder how much do lawyers cost for child custody in North Carolina if you are thinking about getting a divorce. The amount that it will cost will depend on how many issues the lawyers have to resolve and how long the disagreements continue. When the parties already agree on the terms of child custody, visitation, and support, the case might only cost a few thousand dollars for each spouse.

When the parents are in conflict, however, the battle can be quite expensive. Divorce cases get billed on an hourly basis, which means that every hour that your lawyer works on your case will increase your bill. Some issues are worth the fight, while others might not be. North Carolina child custody attorneys can provide guidance on how to work out differences and advocate for you on the disagreements.

What Issues Can Be a Reason for Conflict in a Custody Case? 

Every case is different, so the topics of disagreement in one custody battle might not be the same as in another. Here are some of the more common items on which people might have difficulty reaching an agreement:

  • Whether they will share joint physical custody or one parent will be the primary custodial parent.
  • The details of the parenting time schedule, like the number of overnights, who picks up the children from school, and who gets which holidays.
  • Whether the parents will share legal custody, also called decision-making, or whether one parent will make the final decisions on matters of medical care, education, or other things if the parents cannot agree.
  • How much child support will get paid.
  • Extraordinary expenses of the children in addition to the base child support.

If one of you moves away, disagreements can arise over all of these issues, as well as transportation costs for visitation and custody time.

What Happens in a Contested Custody Case?

If you and the other parent cannot agree on any matters involving the children, the case is contested. The attorneys will have to prepare for trial, which can mean written discovery, depositions, and pre-trial court hearings. 

In some custody cases, it might be appropriate to hire expert witnesses, like specialists in the fields of education, psychology, special needs, and medicine. These experts are usually quite expensive.

Eventually, the case will go to trial if the parties do not reach a settlement during the pre-trial process. Trials can go on for days or longer, with the attorney fees meter running the entire time. The cost of a custody dispute that has to go to trial can easily be $20,000, $50,000, or much more. Sometimes, one of the parties files an appeal after the judge hands down the decision from the trial.

Non-Economic Reasons to Try to Have an Amicable Custody Case

In addition to the financial burden of a custody dispute, there are other reasons to try to resolve as many issues as possible with the other parent of your child. Custody disputes often cause irreparable harm to the relationship of the parents.

They might think that damage does not matter since they are divorcing. Over time, however, they will experience the fallout from a nasty custody battle. The parents still have children to raise for many years after the court date. It can be challenging to cooperate with someone who engaged in character assassination in a courtroom. 

Joyful parenting moments, like high school or college graduations, the child’s wedding, and the birth of grandchildren, can lose their happiness for both the parents and the children after a toxic custody battle. 

North Carolina family law attorneys can help you through your custody case and protect your rights. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.