Expert witnesses are often seen on television court dramas involving criminal cases, but these experts may also be called upon in civil cases like divorce. In family law, they are used to provide insight when the two sides have different views on the value of marital assets, the parenting plan or even the fitness of a parent to raise a family.
There are guidelines for the qualifications of expert witness testimony in state and federal court, but they will have a specialized knowledge that enables them to provide insight to the judge or strengthen a case during pre-trial discovery. Either way, they can be very important in swaying the outcome of a case.
Expert witnesses typically used in divorce
Expert witnesses can be used for just about any issue, but common examples include:
Financial experts: If there are concerns about the other spouse trying to hide assets, a forensic accountant can investigate.
Real estate or property experts: These can valuate real property and other assets that are worth substantial amounts of money (businesses, art collections, cars, etc.)
Vocational experts: These can provide analysis of the market value of a career or potential for a career if a spouse hadn’t quit their job to raise a family.
Child psychologists or therapists: These will interview children and evaluate the home life of the family, especially if a parent is deemed unsuitable for raising a family, or there are allegations of abuse.
When to use an expert
These professionals can be expensive and may take time. Typically, it is best to employ them when custody or large amounts of money are in dispute. It is also important to note that a client and their attorney should discuss the use of an expert witness early in the process, so the testimony is cleared for use in court.