When you think of an expert witness, you are more likely to picture a criminal case, where an expert witness is a doctor or psychiatrist. Experts are often brought in during divorces, too, and if your divorce is contested and going to trial, having an expert may help you get the settlement or custody arrangement that is fair so you can move into your new future with confidence.
Who can act as an expert witness in your divorce? How do you know if you need one? Our family law attorneys in Raleigh are breaking down what makes a witness an expert, the most common types used in divorce cases, and if you need one for your case.
What Is an Expert Witness?
An expert is someone who has specialized training, education, experience, and knowledge in a given subject beyond that of an average person. A meteorologist at the National Weather Service is an expert in the weather, while someone with a PhD in astrophysics is an expert in black holes. Experts can explain information about a topic with more depth and knowledge than someone who read a Wikipedia article.
In a courtroom, an expert witness is allowed to go beyond giving factual information and is able to also provide their opinion on a particular topic. For example, an expert in child psychology can offer their opinion determining if a child is better off with one parent over the other.
Common Expert Witnesses in Divorce Cases
In divorce cases, experts are most often brought in for issues related to child custody and property division, especially in the case of high net worth divorce. The most common experts called as witnesses include:
Forensic accountants are able to break down accounting and finances in a court of law by quantifying financial matters. In a divorce, they bring their expert testimony to issues related to business valuation, complicated stock portfolios, and uncover financial information that can affect how property is divided.
For example, if a couple owns a business, and one party wants to buy the other one out of their half, a forensic accountant can offer their insight as to what it’s worth both at present and the future trends as well as likely tax issues.
Issues related to child custody are complicated, and, too often parents will focus more on their own needs rather than what is best for the child. A child custody evaluator – often a marriage and family therapist or a child psychologist – will look closely at both households and will be able to effectively give an opinion as to where the child will be better off.
Real Estate Appraisers
When a couple owns a home, during divorce, the issue often comes up as to what will happen to said house. In some cases, the couple will sell and split the money, but in others, one-party will want to buy out the other. To get a fair valuation of the real estate, an appraiser will look at the property and share their results in court.
This is important because courts impute income for child and spousal support. What this means is that calculations for support are based on what a parent is likely to earn if they are currently unemployed or underemployed. In North Carolina, if the parent doesn’t have a recent work history, the court will assume the earning potential is no less than minimum wage on a 40 hour workweek.
A vocation evaluator can come in and determine whether or not there is a greater need than what is assumed
Do You Need an Expert Witness for Your Divorce?
If a divorce is going to trial, most likely, it’s a contentious case that requires presenting evidence to a judge. Having an expert witness testifying on your behalf gives your argument validity and helps you get the settlement or custody arrangement you want. When a non-biased party is able to say they believe a person deserves a certain amount or they believe someone shouldn’t see their child, a judge is more likely to lend weight to the expert’s words.
Schedule a Consultation with Our Divorce Lawyers in Raleigh
If you’re beginning the divorce process, don’t try to do this alone. At the Doyle Law Group, P.A., we work with experts regularly to help our clients through challenging financial separation, custody, and support issues and testify on their behalf and help them get better results.
To learn more about how we can help you with your divorce or schedule a consultation, call us today at (919) 205-9728 or fill out the contact form below.
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