Sad kid embraces a teddyWhile I would like to have a full blown custody evaluation to help me out in each divorce case involving children, as well as in paternity cases and parenting time modification cases, the costs of such evaluations make this a difficult consideration, though something that ought to be considered especially in more difficult and heavily contested cases.

Unfortunately, the cost of a comprehensive custody valuation or family evaluation often runs from $4,000 to $6,000 and may be more if the evaluator needs to testify at trial in the case.  Because of this cost, the evaluation is not sought in cases where the parenting issues are able to be resolved quickly, nor in cases where the parties do not have sufficient funds to pay the cost of the evaluation.  Often, the Court will assign one or both parents to pay the cost up front, and then the Court can re-apportion the costs at the trial.

Comprehensive custody evaluations simplify cases for trial in many aspects, as it provides both counsel and the Court with a view of the parents and children from a psychological perspective.  While the Court will not always follow entirely what has been recommended by the custody evaluator, his or her recommendations are given significant weight and credibility by the Courts.

The custody evaluator will interview the parents and children in each case.  Often, the evaluator will interview collateral witnesses such as parents and extended family members, and may look at additional documentation regarding the children’s schooling, medical care, and other aspects of the children’s lives and the parenting by the parties.

Comprehensive custody evaluations often have a psychological evaluation of the parents, often the MMPI 2 test or a similar test.  The results of this test are often included in the results submitted to the Court by the evaluator.

Because of the significant cost, a comprehensive custody evaluation is not appropriate for each case, and should be considered in each case on a case by case basis.  If you have a complex case in which you may need a custody evaluation, or if you have determined that you need experienced legal representation, please call 800-899-2730 and ask to speak with Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at www.yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com.