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Child custody evaluations: cost and effectiveness

by | May 3, 2023 | Firm News

If you are going through a divorce and cannot agree on a custody settlement, a judge can order a child custody evaluation to assess and help the court determine what is in the best interests of the child.

What is a child custody evaluation?

A court can order a child custody evaluation to gather information, becoming a report summarizing the evaluator’s findings. Custody evaluators provide that summary to the court with a recommendation on which parent should get custody over the other.  

When is a custody evaluation needed?

Suppose parents cannot reach an agreement on custody after trying mediation. In that case, a judge may order the family to undergo a custody evaluation. In addition, parents can also request this proceeding from the judge. Usually, these requests occur when there are claims that one parent is “unfit.” A custody evaluator can help assess the situation and recommend their findings to the court. 

Who chooses the child custody evaluator?

It depends. If the court orders the custody evaluation, the judge will assign one. The parents can also choose a custody evaluator depending on the circumstances of the case. You can hire your own if you and the child’s other parent cannot decide on a custody evaluator. However, consider the costs associated with that. 

How much do custody evaluators cost?

It depends on whether the court orders the evaluation and you use the court-appointed evaluator or choose a private evaluator. Court-appointment evaluations range from $1,000 to $2,500. Private child custody evaluators can cost upwards of $15,000, depending on their credentials and experience.

Child custody evaluations can be highly effective in helping determine what is in the best interests of a child. However, it is critical to understand how the process works and what options you have depending on your particular case.