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When do you need expert witnesses in your divorce case?
An expert witness is a trained professional with specialized training, knowledge, or experience who can 1) assist in preparing your case for trial or negotiations and 2) offer an expert opinion in court.
In many cases, no expert witnesses are needed – when there are no disputes, no one is hiding assets, and all parties have agreed to the terms of the divorce, for example. In other cases, however, one or more expert witnesses may be essential to establish your claims or defenses.
Below, we will discuss when you need expert witnesses in your divorce or other family law case, including:
There are many different types of expert witnesses that you could need in your divorce case depending on your circumstances, and the information below only includes the most common types of expert witnesses that we use in divorce cases.
The bottom line is, if there is a specialized task that must be performed to prepare your case, like the valuation of property or the diagnosis and explanation of a medical condition, or if there is specialized testimony that must be presented to the court as part of your claims or defenses, you will need an expert witness or consultant.
There is a range of financial experts that we can use to assist in divorce cases. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to consult with an:
Auditor or accountant: when one or both spouses own a business, have significant assets, or have an otherwise complex financial situation, the parties may benefit from the services of an auditor or accountant who can review the couple’s financial information and present a complete picture of the marital assets and where they are located.
Forensic accountant: a forensic accountant is an accountant who uses accounting principles to analyze financial documents to uncover information and who has experience presenting their findings in the courtroom. For example, a forensic accountant may be necessary when you suspect that your spouse is hiding or moving assets to avoid equitable distribution in the divorce proceedings.
Business valuation: business valuation experts may be required when one spouse owns a business or an interest in a business or when there is a family business jointly owned by the husband and wife. A business valuation expert can 1) determine how much the business is worth using accounting principles and 2) determine a fair value for one spouse to “buy out” the other spouse’s interest in the business.
Before the court can determine how to split the property in divorce proceedings – or before the parties’ attorneys can negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement, an appraiser may be needed to determine the fair value of the property and provide testimony if needed, including real estate, antiques, jewelry, art, or any type of property for which the value cannot readily be determined by a lay person.
Real estate appraisers: when one or both parties own a home, rental property, business property, or another type of land, a real estate appraiser may be needed to provide an expert opinion on the value of the property.
Antique, jewelry, and art appraisers: Antiques or family heirlooms, jewelry, or art may require an expert opinion to establish their value before the property can be fairly divided between the parties.
Other types of expert witnesses that could be necessary for divorce proceedings include psychological experts, vocational or employment experts, and medical experts.
Depending on the circumstances, the parties might need one or more psychological experts to evaluate a child, one or both parents, or the home environment.
Parental evaluations: a psychological expert can be used to determine whether one or both parents are capable of being a good parent – particularly when there are mental health or substance abuse issues.
Child evaluations: psychological experts can also be used to evaluate children during custody proceedings, for example, to determine any special needs that the child has, whether the parent can provide for those needs, or the psychological effect of a parent’s behavior on the child to help the court determine the child’s best interest.
Home studies: a psychologist or social worker expert witness may also help conduct home studies to establish which home environment will be most beneficial to the child to help the court determine the child’s best interest.
Child therapists: therapists or child psychologists are often used when there are allegations of abuse to help a child cope with the events, evaluate the child, and provide recommendations to the court about the child’s best interest.
Marriage counselors: a marriage counselor can also be useful at the outset to help the couple determine whether they truly want a divorce and whether there is any possibility of reconciliation.
Vocational or employment experts can be helpful in some cases to determine the amount of child support or alimony that should be awarded to a spouse. For example, in situations where the spouse is not employed to their full potential because they want to increase the amount of support they receive, an employment expert can collect background information on the spouse, their training and education, their employment history, and information about the local job market to determine the amount of income the spouse should be earning.
Doctors or other medical professionals may be necessary to establish any injuries that are part of the case, any ongoing disability that would affect a party’s ability to work or provide support, or any other medical issues that may arise during the divorce proceedings.
Your divorce lawyer at Axelrod and Associates has access to a broad range of expert witnesses to assist in any issues that may arise in your case. Your attorney will consult with you, determine whether you need an expert witness, and assist you in retaining the right expert or experts for your situation.
If you are considering separation or divorce, contact your SC divorce attorney immediately. Your divorce lawyer on the Axelrod team will answer your questions and help you to determine your next steps including whether it will be helpful to retain expert witnesses or investigators to assist in preparing and presenting your case.
Call Axelrod and Associates now at 843-258-4254 or send us a message through our website to find out how we can help.
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