The breakdown of a relationship is often complicated, but it can be more so when children are involved. Although it is possible to negotiate child custody arrangements without involving a legal representative, it is usually a good idea to a hire a family law attorney Maryland. Here is what you need to know.
When Is It Worth Hiring An Attorney?
Hiring a family law practitioner is essential if the custody arrangements are contested. This can include arrangements such as financial payments or the division of time a child spends between two households. In these circumstances, an attorney can help to fight for a resolution which suits both you and your child.
If the case seems straightforward, it is possible to file for child custody pro se. This essentially means that you file the necessary court paperwork yourself. However, the process can mean additional stress, and there can be delays if there are any errors or omissions in the paperwork.
Usually, you will need to agree on a retainer with your attorney before they will start work. The retainer agreement is a binding contract whereby you consent to pay the family law attorney for all costs related to the case, and the amount will depend on how complicated the case is and on your attorney’s personal fees. Your legal representative should be able to give you a clear idea of their fee structure before you sign the agreement.
A retainer fee is paid up front so that your attorney can pay the costs of the case as they are incurred, for example, they may need to hire paralegals to work on your case. Sometimes the fee is paid in a lump sum, but some legal firms also allow it to be installments.
In some circumstances, the other parent may be held responsible for paying your legal fees. This is usually done when they are perceived as not acting in good faith, for instance if they have violated the original terms of a custody order. There are some state variations when it comes to family law, but generally speaking, who pays the legal fees will be up to the discretion of the family court judge.
What To Do When You Cannot Afford The Fees
If you’re not able to pay the costs of a legal case, and there are no grounds for making the other parent responsible for them, you essentially have two choices. Your first option is to visit a pro se office and ask for advice on how to complete the necessary paperwork yourself. They’ll be able to tell you everything you need to know about proceeding without legal representation.
Your second option is to look at pro bono attorneys in your area. These are attorneys who work on a volunteer basis, for clients who would not otherwise be able to afford their services.
Child custody cases can be emotionally demanding. Hiring a competent attorney can help to make the process less stressful.