In many family law cases, expert witnesses can play a key role in helping get a case settled or at trial if a case cannot settle. At trial, expert witnesses can give opinion testimony that lay witnesses are not allowed to provide to the court.
This concept is hard for lots of family law clients to embrace. Family law clients often have a difficult time understanding why they can’t testify about their opinion on critical matters involved in their case. Parties often worry about the cost of expert witnesses as well. However, expert witnesses can be a necessity in many family law cases to ensure that the client is put in the best possible position.
Below are some examples (and this list is not all-inclusive) of some expert witnesses can be vital to a successful outcome in a family law case:
Appraisers: The value of a home, business, jewelry, automobile, or various assets can become a critical issue in their case. In some limited cases, a party may be able to give their opinion as to the value of certain items (like their home for example). But even so, this is often not met with very much credibility if the party doesn’t have the qualifications to render such an opinion. As it relates to a business, for example, a party ordinarily cannot give their opinion as to value, in most instances, and will instead need a business evaluator.
Forensic Accountants: Parties often find it important to try to trace their separate assets brought into the marriage. Sometimes, a marital estate can also be so complex and of high net worth, that a forensic accountant might be hired to testify as to an equitable division of marital assets when considering all the complexities, including taxes.
Psychologists: The psychological state of the parties or children can come into play in lots of family law matters. Parties might be concerned that the other party could be suffering from a mental health condition. They might also be concerned that there is parental alienation or realistic estrangement. In these cases, a psychologist can often be critical.
Vocational Experts: The income of the parties can be a critical issue as it relates to child support and maintenance. Often, one party believes that the other could make more money if they made a greater effort to obtain gainful employment. A vocational expert can be useful in these types of cases to help determine the income a party is capable of making more money. Without a vocational expert, the case is often impossible to make effectively.
Medical Experts: The health condition of one of the parties could also be a crucial issue in some cases. In some cases, one of the parties might have a medical condition that could affect spousal maintenance or child custody. In other cases, children in a custody case could have a medical condition that could be an important issue as it relates to legal and/or physical custody. In these cases, the testimony of a medical expert can be critical.
If you have a family law matter where an expert witness may be needed, you can contact Stange Law Firm, PC at 314-963-4700. We have divorce attorneys in St. Louis in Missouri and Illinois that can assist you.