I just talked to another custody evaluator in the next county. He said that he charges $180 per hour, and the typical evaluation is 40 hours work. More if there is domestic violence, restraining orders, or other complications.
He asked whether I wanted a psychological evaluation or a custody evaluation, and said that they were completely different. He is an LMPT, not a psychologist, and only does custody evaluations. I quoted for him the judge's order, and he replied, "It sounds like you don't know what you want." I explained that it wasn't what I wanted. I was just trying to comply with the judge.
He also complained about the lack of lawyers. He likes to start an evaluation with a conference call with the lawyers. I asked him why he needed lawyers. I said that we could just bring him the court order and he could do it, since lawyers are not supposed to be involved.
He said that he is not a lawyer, and it is useful for him to have legal representation, especially in a complex case. For example, he said that he might make a recommendation that one parent is happy with, and the other parent is not. Technically, under the law, the unhappy parent has a right to object, and that parent often does object if not represented by a lawyer. When there are lawyers present, the lawyer explains the situation.
Since I was asking these questions, he said that he did not want the case unless we got lawyers.
I got the impression that he likes parents represented by lawyers because they are less likely to contest what he does. That seems backwards to me. The parents hire lawyers to protect their interests, not to be bullied by some bogus evaluator. Many of the lawyers are scared of the evaluators, and unwilling to challenge what they say. What good is a lawyer, if he is afraid to raise an objection?
At any rate, it is becoming clear that it is impossible for us to get an evaluation on our own. If Comm. Joseph wants one, then he is going to have to issue a specific order.