The Cost of Custody

Every client wants to know what their case will cost, whether an amicable settlement or highly contested litigation. You only control your side of things – choices you and your attorney make and how you and your attorney react to choices of the other parent. This makes reliable cost estimates difficult.

Cost is not just financial. Litigation takes a toll on time, emotions, and energy. It can feel like a second part-time, or even full-time, job.

When it comes to contested custody litigation, tension often arises between the cost of the case and the desire to do everything possible for your children, no matter what. No parent wants to feel like he or she sold a child short because the cost is too high. However, the tolls on time, emotion, energy, and money are real and important considerations.

When embarking on this process, consider your budget – what you can afford financially, time-wise, emotionally, and energy-wise. Take these into account when evaluating process options with your attorney about how to resolve custody issues at the start of your case. Compare your budget with the actual cost as the case goes along and make strategic decisions based upon both your goals and resources. Revisit your budgeted resources to compare and compare with the realities of the litigation.

There may come a time when it’s time to evaluate whether the ongoing cost is worth the potential gains. To consider whether the cost of continuing the pursuit is too high. This can feel like failure, like not doing everything you can as a parent for your children. On the other hand, the cost of conflict and your realistic “budget” of time, emotion, energy, and money are very real considerations.

If you do not have the resources to commit to ongoing litigation in pursuit of your custody goals, consider the benefits of settlement. Much as settlement can feel like a failure, viewed another way, the end of conflict can be a gift to your children. The gift of your greater time, emotional availability, energy, and financial resources.

Sometimes the cost of contested custody litigation is too high. Preserving more of your resources, so you can be a more present parent, puts your children first.

And that is what parents do.

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