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Child Custody | Family

How Much Does a Child Visitation Rights Lawyer Cost?

7 min read
Unbundled Legal Help

by Unbundled Legal Help

A child visitation rights lawyer can charge up to $5000 to handle a custody case. Plus, if your case is particularly complicated, there may be additional costs involved. Learn how to save money on lawyer costs while getting professional assistance.

A child visitation rights lawyer can help you resolve a variety of custody-related issues. They can make sure that parenting schedules are maintained, and your child’s interests are protected. 

But hiring a child visitation rights lawyer requires quite an investment. Below, we explore instances when you absolutely need a visitation rights lawyer and how to cut costs on custody cases. We can put you in touch today with an unbundled services child visitation rights lawyer in your area to reduce your costs.

What Is Custody and Visitation Law?

When a married couple with children decides to get divorced or when unmarried people with children decide to live separately, the question comes up of where their children should live.

In most cases, parents are expected to agree on how to manage their children’s lives when they start to live separately. They can agree on sole or joint custody and establish visitation rights.

The most common type of joint custody is an arrangement in which the parents share both physical and legal custody of their child or children. In this case, the child or children will alternate spending time with each parent, and both parents will be involved in the decision making regarding the child’s wellbeing.

Sole custody, on the other hand, means that one of the parents has exclusive rights when it comes to child upbringing. This custody arrangement is quite rare and is mostly applied in situations where one parent is deemed unfit to take care of the child.

If the two parents cannot agree on how to arrange custody for their child or children, the case will go to court where both parties will need to present their cases. The judge will then base their ruling on the best interests of the child.

Child visitation rights are the rights of the parent who doesn’t have physical custody of the child or children to spend time with them during scheduled periods of time.

Child visitation law manages the parent’s visitation rights and is part of family law proceedings. 

What Does a Child Visitation Rights Lawyer Do?

While visitation lawyers, custody lawyers, and family lawyers generally have a similar scope of responsibilities, a child visitation lawyer can help you with several specific tasks.

First, they can help you draft a visitation agreement. Hiring a lawyer to oversee the visitation agreement process can help both parents avoid pitfalls and make sure the child’s best interests are taken into account.  A lawyer will make sure the agreement covers all the important points, from visit scheduling to location considerations—omitting a key point in the agreement may lead to future disputes.

A lawyer can help you predict changes in your circumstances and prepare for them. If the visitation rights or the schedule for visits need to be changed, a visitation lawyer can help you amend the initial agreement—this process is legally known as a modification. The modification must be made in writing and approved by the court to come into force.

You will also need the services of a visitation lawyer if a visitation agreement has been violated. The agreement may be violated by either party: The parent with primary custody may not be granting the non-custodial parent due visitation rights, or the non-custodial parent may be abusing the agreed upon schedule. In this case, both parties may require a visitation lawyer to re-establish the existing agreement or draft a new one. 

Can I Resolve a Child Visitation Dispute without a Lawyer?

If you and your partner agree on the changes that need to be made in the visitation agreement, you may only need a lawyer to make the new visitation agreement legal.

On the other hand, if you don’t agree on the modifications, things get quite a bit more complicated—and you might need some help.

The first place to get started is, of course, to talk to your co-parent and do your best to reach a consensus. This can save both parties a lot of time and money and possibly avoid long and tedious court proceedings.

If you are having a hard time coming to an agreement, another possible solution could be mediation. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party acts as a facilitator in a dispute. This can be helpful if the parties agree on the need for change in visitation rights but disagree on some particulars. 

In some cases, mediation may even be court ordered to resolve a visitation or scheduling dispute.

During the mediation process, both parties will be given the time to make their cases and point out the key issues that they see as points of contention. This will be followed by a discussion facilitated by a mediator whose job will be to help the sides come to an agreement. Note that you don’t need legal representation to participate in the mediation process and the mediator doesn’t have to be a lawyer either.

If there is no way to reach an agreement when it comes to child visitation, the next available option would be to turn to family court to solve the dispute. In family courts, parents can represent themselves—there is no requirement to hire a lawyer. If you choose to represent yourself, you will need to look into how family courts operate. Keep in mind that family courts always follow the best interests of the child standard. 

If you are not familiar with court proceedings, or if your case is particularly complicated, hiring a lawyer may be the best option. In this case, it’s important to consider related costs—as well as ways to minimize them.

Is a Child Visitation Rights Lawyer Expensive?

There are a number of factors that will affect the final cost of your child visitation rights case.

The complexity of your case will be one of the main considerations for your lawyer. For instance, if you and your partner are in agreement about the changes you are making to the existing arrangements, your case will be relatively simple and, thus, less expensive. On the other hand, if you and your partner disagree on the changes in visitation rights, you should be ready for higher fees.

The hours a lawyer spends on your case is another factor that has a direct effect on your final fee. As we’ve mentioned above, in most cases, you will be charged a package fee for your case. However, if extra services are needed or if the case takes more time, your attorney will charge an additional hourly fee.

If you need to involve expert witnesses or consult other professionals to make your case, this will also come at an additional cost. For instance, to initiate a change in visitation rights, you may require the testimony of a child psychologist.

How to Save Money on a Child Visitation Rights Lawyer?

Hiring a lawyer to represent you in a child visitation rights case can indeed be expensive. Depending on the complexity of your case, you may need to pay from $3000-5000 for a full package of services — and maybe more.

But there are several strategies to consider that may be helpful in lowering these costs:

  • The first thing you can do is agree on as many points as possible with your co-parent. The more you agree on, the simpler your case will be and the fewer hours your lawyer will bill you for. If you need help reaching an agreement, consider mediation before referring to a lawyer.
  • Minimize the amount of work your lawyer has to do. If there is any paperwork that you can prepare yourself, go for it: this may include financial documentation, personal files, any related documented proof that you want to use in your case.
  • Use unbundled legal services. Most lawyers who take on your child visitation rights case will charge you for a full package of services, which may end up being a hefty sum. However, there is another option. When using unbundled legal services, you will be able to hire a lawyer to only handle a specific part of your case—for instance, drafting a legally binding visitation agreement or representing you in court. In this case, you will only be paying a portion of the package fee, which is a much more affordable amount. 

Alternatively, if you feel that the complexity of your case requires a full scope of legal services, Unbundled Legal Help may still help you keep your legal expenses at bay. We work with smaller legal firms and individual lawyers with whom you may be able to negotiate lower fees. We can connect you with a child visitation rights lawyer in your area today.

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