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How much can a child custody battle cost?

Custody issues can quickly turn into a bitter dispute between divorcing parents -- and that can escalate into a legal "battle royal" that involves a number of different parties and a significant expense.

Just how expensive can a child custody battle be? Here are some of the latest figures that will give you an idea of what might happen?

When parents can't agree on custody, that often means a protracted custody battle -- and that means more lawyer fees. It probably will also mean heading into court -- maybe several times over -- to have a judge rule on various aspects of the case.

On average, you can expect to pay $20,000 over the course of the case with about $15,000 of that going toward attorney fees alone. (Keep in mind, however, that $20,000 is just an average. For some couples, the final cost can be quite a bit higher.)

In order to determine what's really in the best interest of the child, the court may also ultimately require an evaluation by a trained psychologist -- and that doesn't come cheaply.

The psychologist will have to interview both of the parents and the children. He or she also spends time watching the children interacting with each of their parents at home. The cost for the psychologist's time can vary quite a bit. A child custody evaluator supplied by the county will end up costing somewhere between $1,000 and $2,500 -- but if you want a private psychologist to weigh in on your case, you can expect to pay $10,000 -- or even more.

Ultimately, it's always financially easier to try to come to custody terms with your divorcing spouse whenever possible. While that isn't always possible, an attorney can often help you achieve that goal.

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