When divorcing with children in the family, you may want to hire more than one attorney. One of the attorneys would handle the main divorce proceedings, while the other attorney would specialize in child custody. You may find it expensive to afford a legal team, which can lead to stress for you and your family. Fortunately, you do have a few options for finding a more affordable child custody lawyer. These include pro bono services and shopping around for an affordable, but experienced attorney. You can also wait and create a savings account devoted to the project. Read on to learn more about how you can afford a child custody lawyer.
1. Create a Savings Account
If you already completed the proceedings surrounding a child custody order, then you must wait two years from the date of its issue to request a modification. That provides you with two years to save money for the purpose of hiring an attorney. Open a high-yield savings account and dedicate its purpose to funding your custody battle. During this two-year period, you can take on a second job, such as driving Lyft or Uber, that lets you work when your former spouse has the kids. You lose no time with them and you earn extra money, which goes into your legal fund.
2. Pro Bono Attorneys
The term pro bono means without pay and most counties offer a legal clinic at which attorneys volunteer their time. Visiting one of these clinics can help you quickly find a child custody divorce attorney. Clinics such as these go by various names, including Legal Aid and Legal Assistance. The local bar association, the municipal courthouse, and some law schools offer these clinics. The two former options offer attorneys who already passed the bar exam. Let's explore what law schools offer.
Some law schools offer legal clinics, too. Phone your local law school to inquire about what types of legal clinics it offers. You also need to know if the clinic volunteers consist of students and professors or only students. Ask what year the students must have attained before practicing in the clinic and what type of training they undergo. Most clinics only use third-year students, meaning that they've completed two-thirds of their legal education.
3. Shop for an Attorney Using a Comparison Website
Use a site like Avvo or Nolo to research attorneys. You can compare experience and rates on some of these sites. Phone the attorneys whose rates best fit your situation. Although you might think you need someone with litigation experience, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, attorneys resolve 90% of child custody matters without going before a judge. That means you'll likely create an amenable custody agreement outside of a courtroom by meeting in your attorneys' offices.
4. Call the Victims of Domestic Abuse Hotline
Perhaps you left your marriage due to physical or emotional abuse. Phone the National Domestic Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to speak with a counselor who can help you find resources, such as shelter and an attorney. Their referrals also point you to resources for obtaining a restraining order, so your ex or soon-to-be ex cannot approach you or your children while you undergo divorce proceedings. Some restraining orders, also called victim protection orders (VPOs), extend beyond the divorce.
Don't feel bad about your marriage ending. In the U.S., between 40% and 50% of all marriages do, according to LegalJobs.io. Instead, focus on the fact that you're making healthy decisions for yourself and your children. You can find affordable child custody lawyers. It takes some effort and creative thinking, but they're out there.