Most people are familiar with the concept of expert witnesses through watching legal procedural TV shows like Law & Order. In these types of programs, the expert witness is usually a hired gun who comes into the courtroom with damning evidence that cinches the case for one side or the other.
In the actual legal world, the use of expert witnesses is relatively common and much less dramatic. If you are planning on getting divorced, learn more about what types of expert witnesses may be called to testify in your case.
What Is An Expert Witness?
An expert witness can be anyone with specialized knowledge or training in a specific area. The court will allow testimony from an expert witness because of that person’s education, skill, or experience in a certain area.
The expert witness will be called as to a particular matter. He or she will not give testimony on the merits of the entire case, or express opinions about how the case should be decided. Instead, the expert witness will be asked questions only about his or her area of expertise—for instance, an expert accountant testifying about a person’s financial state will not be questioned about which parent would provide a better living situation for any children.
Types of Expert Witnesses
Expert witnesses can testify in a wide variety of areas. If an attorney believes that the judge in a case would benefit hearing an expert opinion, the attorney can file a motion asking the judge to allow the testimony. If the judge agrees that the witness is qualified as an expert, and that his or her testimony would be beneficial, then the expert witness will be allowed to testify.
While there are numerous types of expert witness, family cases usually involve one of three different types.
Financial Experts And Accountants
People skilled in financial matters are often called to testify regarding a person’s finances. If a person owns a business, is self-employed, or is worth a significant amount of money, then the court may benefit from the testimony of an auditor or accountant. These types of experts often review a person’s financial information looking for secret sources of income or accounts, or will testify about whether or not a person can actually afford a certain amount of child support or spousal support.
Real Estate And Property Experts
Other experts focus of valuing real estate and other personal property. When a couple owns a home, rental property, or other piece of land, appraisers are often needed as expert witnesses to testify about what the property is actually worth.
In the same way, couples who own antiques or heirlooms may need an expert in that particular field to testify about an items worth. The accurate value of items like jewelry, art, or furniture must be established so that a couple’s property can be fairly divided in the divorce case.
Child Psychologists or Therapists
When a divorcing couple had a tumultuous home life, or if there are allegations of abuse, the court will often allow testimony from child psychologists, therapists, doctors, or social workers. These professionals will evaluate the children and their living environment, and can make recommendations to the court about what would be in the best interests of the child. While the court is not required to follow these people’s recommendations, they often carry a substantial amount of weight with the judge.
Help With Your Divorce
Expert witnesses in a divorce case provide a judge with invaluable insight into a couple’s life. These experts are helpful in convincing the judge to rule in a person’s favor, and can help give both sides an accurate picture of each person’s financial state or personality.
At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our attorneys utilize all available resources when representing our clients, including expert witnesses. The lawyers at Pacific Northwest Family Law have many techniques at their disposal to help divorcing couples navigate their divorce, and achieve great successes using mediation, collaboration, and other dispute resolution methods.
To schedule an initial interview and learn more about using expert witnesses in your case, contact us today by calling 509-572-3700.