Dear Carolyn,
I have a custody dispute going on with the mother of my child and it never seems to end. I think the mother is mentally ill. She just doesn’t get the parenting thing. The therapist has suggested we get a child custody evaluation. How much do these cost? Is this a good idea? What is this?


Carolyn Answers,
A child custody evaluation can be helpful in high conflict child custody case, which is seems you have. Two bodies have guidelines for child custody evaluations: American Psychological Association with guidelines more than 10 years old and perhaps in need of updating. The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts has a Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluation. These evaluations are done by a clinical psychologist (PhD) with specialized knowledge in child custody evaluations. The psychologist compiles information, formulates information, but the District Court judge makes the decision. The judge can accept all, none or some of the recommendations of the psychologist. The psychologist cannot be a therapist for any of the parties being evaluation; this is not counseling or therapy. The cost can run $5,000 to $25,000 and even more, with $7,500 to $10,000 being typical.


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