Child support is the money that either or both divorced parents are required to pay by law towards the cost of raising the children. In St. Louis, child support may be ordered by the courts or by the Missouri Family Support Division – Child Support Enforcement.
Although every case is unique, Missouri law has set out a standard formula, which is used when calculating child support. The courts usually make their child support order based on this formula.
Whether you are paying child support or receiving it, you should ensure that the order from the court is in keeping with your specific circumstances. This is easier said than done and you may need help from experienced St. Louis child support lawyers to fully understand it and see it through.
Child support lawyers’ fees vary from case to case as they depend on a variety of factors. If you’re concerned about how much child support attorneys charge and how the costs of their services are determined, you’ve come to the right place.
How a Compassionate St. Louis Child Support Lawyer Can Help
Dealing with issues related to the wellbeing of your children can make you emotional. This is why you need to work with a lawyer who understands that these matters need to be handled with sensitivity and patience. This is also important to resolve these issues harmoniously.
The right child support lawyer will fight to obtain support for your child while helping you understand the legal guidelines to be followed in the state of Missouri. Here’s how your child support lawyer can support you:
- Obtain an order to receive child support
- Modify the existing child support agreement, if required
- Enforce child support orders, if the non-custodial parents do not comply
- Assist with paternity-related issues of minor children
In a nutshell, your child support lawyer will work to make the entire legal process as easy as possible for you as well as your children.
What Factors Influence the Cost of a St. Louis Child Custody Lawyer?
Some of the factors that contribute to the total fees of a child custody lawyer are:
1. Type of Custody
Typically, uncontested child custody cases cost less than contested cases. If the parties are uncooperative, the dispute will involve steps like further depositions, filing motions, prolonged court time, hiring counselors or child psychologists, and so on. These can lead to increased fees, and therefore, costs.
Even if the parties are cooperative and decide to go for mediation, there will be expenses to bear. Mediators are usually paid by the hour. They can cost anywhere between $100 and $400 per hour.
2. Involvement of Expert Witnesses
Some cases may require the involvement of a specialist or a professional expert, such as a child psychologist. In these cases, even if the parties do not dispute over custody, they may still need to undergo an evaluation.
Custody evaluations entail tests, interviews, and expert observation. These can cost anywhere between $1500 and $6500 and can increase if the case is contested.
3. Miscellaneous Expenses
You also need to factor in the miscellaneous costs associated with the case and add them to the attorney’s fees. For instance, an approximate amount of $300 may need to be paid to the sheriff or a third party to serve the other party with the legal papers. Other types of paperwork will need to be filed as well and can cost as low as $1 or as high as $500.
The bottom line is that all these minute expenses need to be added towards the total fees. Other than this, the court may order mediation before granting child custody. This can attract additional expenses.
Common Types of Lawyer Fees
As mentioned, lawyer fees vary from case to case. A lot depends on their experience, track record, and the amount of work and effort they put into your case. A case that drags on for longer will attract a higher fee.
The common types of fees received by lawyers in child support cases are as follows:
- Consultation fee: This is usually paid after the conclusion of the initial meeting where both you and the lawyer decide to work on the case. Some attorneys, however, do not charge this fee.
- Flat fee: This option is suitable if the case is simple and devoid of complications.
- Hourly fee: Most commonly charged type of fee, is charged for the type of work done on a per-hour basis. This can include legal research and court appearance.
- Referral fee: If the lawyer refers you to another attorney, they may ask you to pay them a share of the total fee you will be paying for the case.
- Retainer fee: This involves a down payment for the services you receive. A certain amount of money (based on the lawyer’s hourly rate) is put in an account, and withdrawn by the lawyer as and when expenses are incurred.
The Costs of Modifying a Child Custody Order
A host of factors can affect the cost of modifying an existing child custody order.
If both parties agree to the modification of the custody agreement, then the order can be modified at little or no cost.
However, if the modification is contested, you will likely incur higher filing fees as well as additional legal fees.
Who Pays the Lawyer Fees?
In child custody and support matters, each party is responsible for paying their own legal fees. However, some courts do make exceptions in cases where a huge disparity between the financial statuses of both parties is established. This includes situations where one party cannot afford legal representation or when the judge deems it fit to award reasonable attorney fees, given the case facts.
When picking your child support lawyer, however, it is important to look beyond the fee aspect. Child custody and support cases tend to be complex and require in-depth knowledge of the numerous facets of family law. Having a qualified and experienced St. Louis child support lawyer in your corner will prove to be invaluable to your case.
As you can see, understanding the intricacies involved in a child support case is no cakewalk. In fact, court rulings in this matter can have a huge impact on the quality of life of both parents. Working with a seasoned attorney is essential if you want to improve your chances of winning a favorable outcome. Depending on the several factors mentioned in the post, you should be able to get a fair idea of how much hiring an experienced St. Louis Child Support lawyer will cost you. You should consider it as an investment you make towards your as well as your child’s future.
Get Legal Assistance from Experienced St. Louis Child Support Lawyers
Our skilled child support lawyers are adept at handling not just the initial proceedings involved in child custody and support, we also help clients deal with modification and enforcement issues with a result-oriented approach. Call us at (314) 725-4000 for a free consultation. You can also contact us via our website by filling out a simple form. We will get back to you at the earliest.