SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER
Each year in the United States, nearly one million children will experience their parents’ divorce. It is very commonplace these days to have a split family, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. If handled properly, the process of divorce can go smoothly and avoid any lasting negative impacts.
It is important for parents to remain cordial and fair in the process of divorce, as their behavior during this time can directly impact their child’s emotional health and well-being. Unfortunately, things can get messy quickly when it comes to determining custody arrangements. Your child’s best interests will be the court’s main concern and should be yours as well. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Vergis, we aim to work not only for our client’s interest, but also in the child’s best interest. If you seek a child custody attorney in the Shreveport or Bossier City, LA area, contact our offices today. You can reach us by calling (318) 698-3724 or by completing the online intake form on our website.
Louisiana Child Custody Laws
Louisiana courts have the ultimate authority over child custody and visitation agreements. However, if the parents of the child can agree on their own custody arrangement with no contention, it is highly likely that the judge will grant legal custody as both parents wish. In most cases, it is better to come to an agreement with the other parent through civil negotiation than to leave the fate of your child at the hands of a judge. Of course, the judge must also consider the best interests of the child, so if he or she feels that one parent or the other is not a suitable guardian, they may alter the circumstances of the agreement.
Before a judge enforces a child custody agreement, there are several legal issues that must be considered. Some of the questions that must be answered include:
- Do the parents wish for joint custody? Or does one or both seek full custody?
- If one parent obtains full custody, what visitation rights does the respective parent have?
- If they wish to obtain shared custody, where will the child/children spend holidays, birthdays, etc.?
- Will child support be necessary? If so, who will pay child support?
If the parents cannot agree on answers to any of the above, and negotiations between the parties and their family law attorneys do not resolve the contention, it will be up to the judge to decide on physical custody. Before doing so, they will consider several factors, including the child’s own preference, the stability of the home life of each parent, whether there are any prior instances of domestic violence, and more.
Why Do I Need an Attorney for a Child Custody Case?
Child custody cases are often the most contentious in family law matters. This is because there is a lot at stake. We know the lengths you are willing to go to for your child, but your ex will likely go to those lengths, as well. For most families, creating a child custody agreement and visitation schedule is an emotional process and requires strong mediation and litigation from an experienced attorney.
Bossier City child custody attorneys like Michael Vergis have experience handling sensitive family law matters like these that require serious care and attention. You have to remember that your child is just as important of a factor in you and your spouse’s split as the two of you are. They have a lot at stake, as well. Their emotional and general well-being depends almost entirely on their home life and the environment in which they’re raised. The way that their parents communicate and interact with one another during and after the divorce plays a significant part in establishing their home environment. It is important that your family law attorney understands this.
A typical custody case involves evaluation, preparation, proposal of a parenting plan, calculation of child support, negotiations, and mediation, among many other things. This is precisely why it is so important to have a qualified Bossier City family law attorney working for you on your child custody case. A skilled lawyer such as Michael Vergis understands the challenges that can arise in child custody proceedings and works to resolve issues between family members in an efficient and amicable manner.
How Much is an Attorney for Child Custody?
The price for a Louisiana child custody attorney varies significantly due to there being many factors and considerations that play into the case. You may be looking at anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The cost of an attorney and court fees depend on the specific case and requirements for custody. It also depends largely on the skill and experience of the legal professional you choose to represent you. Their reputation and track record of litigating child custody cases will determine how much you will be paying.
Child custody lawyers may charge for their legal services in many different ways. The standard process is straightforward pay-by-the-hour billing. The average attorney hourly fee can range anywhere from $80 to $400 or more per hour. This fee covers research and preparation, phone calls, emails, meetings, and court appearances.
Other times, family lawyers may charge a flat fee for their work. Uncontested cases will have a significantly less flat fee, while more complex, contested divorce cases may be considerably more. With that in mind, you can expect a flat fee ranging from $3,000-$20,000.
In addition to hourly and flat fee billing, some lawyers choose to charge on a retainer basis. A retainer basis refers to a fee paid in advance from which the attorney will deduct their expenses as the case progresses. If the case concludes quickly, you may even end up getting refunded any money that did not go toward expenses. On the other hand, if the case exceeds the retainer, you may need to provide additional payment. Your attorney will keep a complete record of all charges and expenses so you know exactly where your money is going.
Who Pays Attorney Fees in Child Custody Cases?
Even if the case is completely uncontested and both parties agree on the terms, they are still considered opposing parties in a court of law. As such, the same attorney cannot represent both parties in a child custody case. A lawyer cannot ethically support both spouses. It would quickly become a conflict of interest. As such, each spouse will need to obtain their own child custody attorney.
Because of this, each party is generally responsible for paying their own individual lawyer fees. A judge might make an exception to this in the case that one spouse makes a great deal more than the other. They may also provide special conditions if one cannot afford private legal representation.
You may be hesitant when it comes to hiring a child custody attorney, but it is one of the best and most important investments a parent can make. Obtaining legal representation for a matter as delicate as this ensures the best possible outcome for you and your child.
What Questions to Ask an Attorney About Child Custody
There are several matters that must be attended to in a Louisiana child custody case. Your lawyer will likely have many questions for you so that they can understand the situation fully and make their best judgment in regard to your situation. However, it is important that you ask your child custody attorney any questions you might have, as well.
You probably already have a lengthy list of questions you intend to ask. Nevertheless, we will provide you with some questions to ask your attorney about child custody that can be helpful for your own understanding. Here are some questions you might consider asking:
- What other cases have you handled similar to mine? How did they turn out?
- What’s the difference between legal and physical custody?
- How might I obtain sole custody?
- What is a parenting plan?
- What should be included in a custody agreement?
- How do courts determine who receives custody?
- If I gain custody, will I get child support?
- Can I refuse visitation if my ex doesn’t contribute child support?
- Will my child have a say in the matter?
- How long do you think this case will last?
Other Family Law Services We Offer
In addition to child custody and visitation rights, Michael Vergis also handles a range of other family law matters in Shreveport and Bossier City, LA. This includes:
- Alimony (also known as spousal support)
- Child support
- Paternity law
- Pre-marital and post-martial agreements
- Property division (the division of marital property)
- Same-sex family law
- Restraining orders
- Guardianship and conservatorship
Attorney Michael Vergis has over 25 of experience practicing law and assisting clients throughout the state of Louisiana. As such, he knows the Louisiana legal system through and through, and he uses this knowledge to help his clients obtain the best outcome available in their case. Whether that’s family law, criminal defense, personal injury, or a Louisiana civil rights case, he can provide clients with superior legal counsel and dedicated advocacy. Allow the Law Offices of Michael J. Vergis to handle your case and protect your legal rights. Call today.
Contact a Northwest Louisiana Child Custody Attorney Today
If you plan on filing for custody of your child or need help developing a solid parenting and visitation plan, you need the extensive experience of a family law attorney in Shreveport and Bossier City, LA. At the Law Offices of Michael J. Vergis, we provide families with unparalleled service in a competent and caring manner. We want to ensure the best outcome for you and your child. Call us today at 318-698-3724 or complete the contact form on our home page to request your consultation.