Do I Need a Lawyer for Child Custody Issues?

Custody disagreements can end up in court if the parents can't see eye-to-eye

By Tim Kelly, J.D. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on March 30, 2023

Use these links to jump to different sections:

Child custody matters are a highly sensitive area of family law. Sometimes, amicable parents can work together to create a parenting plan. Other times, however, there are disputes between the parents that can only be resolved in court.

When custody of your child is at issue, consider seeking family law attorneys in your area with experience in custody law. Many law firms offer free consultations where you can speak to a child custody lawyer and determine if they fit your needs.

When Facing Child Custody Issues

Divorced parents with a minor child in the United States are free to work together to form their own legal custody arrangement, allowing them to divide their parenting time as they see fit. While this can be an amicable approach to raising the child, these types of custody arrangements are not immune to disputes later on.

Any number of issues can cause a once harmonious agreement to sour. This includes changes to child support, interfering with agreed-to visitations rights, or any other modifications to your prior arrangement.

For these reasons, it’s often best to seek legal advice from the very start. Enlisting an attorney to look over your custody agreement at the beginning can potentially avoid court hearings in the future.

Attorneys with experience in child custody issues can spot something you or your former spouse may have overlooked.

When all else fails, the disputing parties end up in court. In child custody cases, the family court will weigh various factors in determining what is in the best interest of the child or children. While the law doesn’t require you to have legal representation in a custody dispute, you could be risking your parental rights in representing yourself.

Here are just a few reasons why having an attorney is invaluable during a court battle:

  • They have experience in your local court systems, having worked with judges and other family law attorney
  • They know all filing deadlines and can help you keep track of hearing dates and appearances
  • They are educated in enforcing your parental rights and can file motions and seek court orders in your pursuit of custody
  • They can advise you and work with the court if you need to make changes to your child support payments or custody arrangement

Attorneys can act as a buffer between you and your spouse when communication has broken down. Furthermore, their presence can help deescalate if tempers are running high.

How To Find a Child Custody Lawyer

There are many avenues to finding the right attorney for your custody case. No matter where you begin your search, consider utilizing the following tried and true resources:


Parents in custody battles often encounter a barrage of advice from friends and family members. Hear them out, especially those who have gone to court over child custody issues in the past. Their experiences and networking possibilities can be invaluable as you search for legal services.

Referrals can be a great way to narrow your search for an attorney. But they can be disorienting when you receive so many in such a short amount of time. Make sure whichever attorney is referred to you has a proven track record with similar types of cases to yours.

Local Bar Associations

Another great way to find child custody attorneys is through state and county bar associations. With this method, you can perform a quick internet search for state bar associations. Often, these websites include databases of local attorneys from which you can begin setting up free consultations.

Attorney’s fees can build up over time. Unfortunately, some parents do not have the financial means to afford the legal costs of defending their parental rights. In these instances, parents are encouraged to explore legal aid options available in their area. If you cannot afford legal representation in your custody battle, ask your judge about being represented through legal aid.

Third-Party Services

Searching for attorneys is time-consuming and stressful—especially if you’re in a draining child custody battle. Those wanting to forgo the hassle and find a dedicated lawyer turn to third-party databases like Super Lawyers. Consider using Super Lawyers to drill down your search and get in contact with the right lawyer for you today.

To help you get started in your search for an experienced custody and visitation lawyer, follow this link to the Super Lawyers directory and use the search box to find a lawyer based on your legal issue or location.

Questions to Ask a Child Custody Attorney

Speaking to a child custody attorney for the first time can often be intimidating, especially because family law tends to dredge up emotions. Before sitting down with an attorney, consider which questions you’d like to ask them and what answers your ideal attorney might provide. Here are a few examples to help get you started:

  • Am I entitled to child support?
  • Can I get a restraining order against my spouse if they endanger my and my children’s well-being?
  • How can I file for sole legal custody of my minor children?
  • Do I need an attorney if my former spouse and I seek joint custody?

Searching For the Right Family Law Attorney

When child custody disputes arise, it is best to enlist legal representation. A complicated and emotionally taxing process can be made easier with the benefit of a lawyer by your side. A family law attorney from an accomplished law firm can provide essential legal advice on marital assets, child custody, and restraining orders, all while guiding you through the nuances of family court.

When using a database such as Super Lawyers, it would be best to find a custody and visitation attorney operating in your current jurisdiction.

What do I do next?

Enter your location below to get connected with a qualified attorney today.
Popular attorney searches: Child Support Divorce

Related topics

Find top lawyers with confidence

The Super Lawyers patented selection process is peer influenced and research driven, selecting the top 5% of attorneys to the Super Lawyers lists each year. We know lawyers and make it easy to connect with them.

Find a lawyer near you