Child Custody- Who Pays Law Guardian Fee's?

Asked over 1 year ago - New York, NY

Starting a Child Custody Case – I understand my son will be appointed a Law guardian. Will I have to pay for his law guardian or is it free? I make 60k yearly, I plan to hire an Attorney soon but I am taking a loan for his fees. My son’s mother does not work and I assume a court will appoint her a free attorney. I can’t even afford my own lawyer; will they expect me to pay for law guardian?

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Mary Katherine Brown

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    Answered . It is possible that you will be asked to pay some of the fees for the child's attorney, but the Court is usually reasonable in considering your income and expenses. Litigating child custody matters can be expensive, and sometimes the Court will use financial pressures to help encourage settlement, especially if it appears the parties are being unnecessarily stubborn. Good luck!

    Ms. Brown may be reached at 718-878-6886 during regular business hours, or anytime by email at: marykatherinebrown@... more
  2. David Ivan Bliven

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    Answered . If you are in Family Court, they tend to be ALOT more lenient toward appointing Attorneys for Children and having them reimbursed by the State. If you're in Supreme Court on a divorce, then it'll likely be private pay. The very rough guidelines (though no rule is formalized) is that one qualifies for appointed counsel if one's household/family income is below $68,000 for a family of 3. Thus, if you're supporting her, the child & yourself, you'd appear to qualify (again, at least in Family Court). This practice tends to vary from Court to Court, however, and even from judge-to-Judge. In any event, you're encouraged to schedule a consultation with a NYC Child Custody attorney.

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  3. Lourdes Pilar Rosario

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    Answered . I agree with counsel that the practice of assigning or having the parties pay for an attorney for the child(ren) varies from court to court and from judge to judge. However, if you are able to demonstrate that paying for such legal fees would cause you an economic hardship, the courts will be lenient in assigning counsel for the child(ren). In any event, I would consult with your chosen attorney, who may be more knowledgeable with the practices of the courts in your area. Best of luck!

  4. Edwin Drantivy

    Contributor Level 18

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    Answered . She will be entitled to make that request. It will be up to the Judge/magistrate to decide if such an Order would be an unnecessary burden on you.

  5. Marco Caviglia

    Contributor Level 19

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    Answered . The options are the county pays, you pay, she pays or you split the cost based on income. I've seen variations depending upon the income and the county in which the action is based.

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  6. Jennifer L. Fazio

    Contributor Level 4

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    Answered . If your case is pending in Family Court, then the County will pay the fee of the law guardian. If your case is pending in Supreme Court, my experience is that it can vary from Judge to Judge. Sometimes the Court will have the parties equally divide the fee up front, subject to being reallocated at the end of the case. In Supreme Court, you should always ask that the Court run it through the State program which would mean that the parties do not have to contribute toward this fee. However, with your income level, it's probably unlikely. Good luck.

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