Every divorce and family law case is unique. Although many cases have similarities, every situation and family has its own needs and complications, and so every case must be handled as distinctive. Accordingly, the type of proof that is appropriate to produce at a hearing or final trial for a divorce will be different in each case. What is necessary in a simple divorce with no assets will be completely different than a case involving high net-worth and contentious issues of child custody. In some of these latter cases, expert witness testimony may be appropriate or even necessary.
There are a large variety of expert witnesses, who can testify to any number of issues during a divorce case. In order to be qualified as expert witness, the witness must be “suitably qualified” and also must be in possession of appropriately specialized knowledge that he or she can explain the basis of any opinions offered. This is set out in the New Jersey Rules.
Perhaps the most common types of expert witness are those employed in cases involving an acrimonious child custody case. Expert witnesses for a child custody case are often psychologists, either for the child or for the parents. If the psychologist is for the child, the psychologist would have met with the child and also perhaps the parents, and formed an opinion on what is best for the child, based on that psychological profile. If the psychologist is for the parents, then the psychologist could be testifying to whether the parent is psychologically suitable to have custody or even visitation with the children.
Financial matters are also a common area of dispute in divorces, and therefore it is no surprise that another place that experts testify is in the area of finances. Spouses who believe their husband or wife is hiding assets or income may employ the services of a forensic accountant to review their financial documents and provide an opinion about whether there is money that is being hidden or dissipated. Experts may also be employed to provide opinions on the value of large assets, such as businesses or real estate.
Expert witnesses are certainly not necessary in every case. Experts are often costly, as they will charge for their time both in and out of court. If the asset you are arguing over is worth less than what an expert witness would end up costing you, then an expert witness is probably unnecessary. In cases involving child custody, it becomes a more difficult inquiry, and only you and your attorney and truly answer whether you believe the time and expense of a child psychologist is actually necessary to assist in achieving your goals at trial.
These are only a small sampling of the types of expert witnesses who may testify during a divorce case. We have experience in helping our clients prepare cases and present their evidence in the best way to achieve their goals. We can review your case with you and talk about options for your divorce. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 for an appointment.