A good rule of thumb is that you want to get everything right in your divorce decree.
Otherwise, you need to modify child custody in your divorce decree, which can be difficult to do. Courts don’t like to modify custody (they don’t want to ping pong kids), and people fight hard against modifications.
So, if you can get child custody correct upfront in your divorce decree, do it.
But, sometimes you need to change child custody. If you do, and your ex doesn’t want to play ball (you can assume there won’t be any ball playing), you’ll probably need a custody evaluation.
Judges want an expert opinion to lean on a trial, and that’s what a custody evaluation gives them.
So, the question becomes: since I’m asking to change child custody, will I pay for the custody evaluation?
The answer is almost certainly yes.
The logic is pretty simple: you want a modification and you think it’s necessary, so you can pay for the evaluation.
That logic might not be fair because it’s your ex who did bad things and caused you to ask for a modification, but that’s the logic.
I’d like to tell you there’s an exception and you won’t need to pay, but there’s not. You’ll pay for the evaluation. You can count on it.
What this means is you need to have the first payment to the evaluation ready to go before you file to modify. That payment usually runs around $2500.
Keep in mind that a judge can reallocate custody evaluation costs at trial, so you might not end up paying 100%. Tough part is any reallocation happens at trial, so you’ll need to float costs until the end of trial.