Most people are aware that expert witnesses often play crucial roles in criminal court and some civil cases, such as complex personal injury claims, but did you know that expert witnesses could potentially weigh in on a divorce case, too? Expert witnesses are professionals with specific skill sets that relate to the more complex elements of a legal case. They sometimes simply provide consultation services to attorneys to help them better understand the finer technical points of a case or to clarify matters to which their professional backgrounds pertain, but some expert witnesses will also testify in divorce cases under certain conditions.
Expert witnesses may potentially come into play in any divorce case, but highly complex divorces such as high net worth divorces and divorce cases involving domestic abuse or similar criminal issues are more likely to require input from expert witnesses. If you intend to divorce in the near future and are unsure of whether expert witnesses will play any roles in your proceedings, it’s wise to consult an experienced California divorce attorney about your concerns.
Expert Witnesses in High Net Worth Divorce Cases
One of the most important elements of any divorce is financial disclosure. Both spouses must provide complete financial records so the court can ensure their property division proceedings unfold appropriately under California’s strict community property laws. Unfortunately, divorcing spouses are not always forthcoming or honest with their financial disclosures, especially high net worth individuals who want to protect as much of their personal wealth from divorce as they possibly can.
If you have started divorce proceedings and you believe your spouse has hidden assets, your attorney may coordinate with expert witnesses like certified accountants or forensic accountants to review you and your spouse’s respective financial disclosure documents. These experts are ideal choices when you need to ascertain whether your spouse has been entirely honest with their financial disclosure. It is also possible to consult financial experts after you already have your divorce agreement in hand if you discover evidence that your ex hid assets during your divorce proceedings.
Expert Witnesses for Child Custody Determination
It’s not uncommon for child custody to be the most hotly contested issue of a divorce. Unfortunately, when divorcing parents are not objective about their situation and lose sight of their children’s best interests, their attorneys may need to bring in experts to determine what type of custody arrangement would best suit the children’s best interests. For example, one parent may claim that the other is abusive or an unreliable parent and use this as justification to argue for sole custody. The other parent’s attorney may consult experts like social workers, child psychologists, and other medical experts to disprove this claim.
Sometimes the court will order specific experts to weigh in on a child custody determination and provide the court with their objective professional opinions of both parents. This testimony can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of the custody determination. If you believe an expert witness can potentially help you make a stronger case for custody of your children, ask your attorney whether you can expect any expert witness testimony on your behalf in this regard.
Expert Witnesses for Other Issues in Divorce
It is also possible for a divorce case to involve criminal matters such as domestic violence. Unfortunately, determining the truth of these issues is often difficult, and it is not uncommon for these situations to boil down to “he said, she said” scenarios with one spouse’s word against the other’s. Expert witnesses may come into play to review physical evidence of domestic violence, conduct psychological examinations of the divorcing spouses, or otherwise contribute their professional opinions to help the court arrive at the best possible outcome to the situation.
Expert witnesses may also come into play in contempt proceedings filed by one divorced spouse against the other. For example, if one spouse must pay alimony to the other and they claim to have lost their job due to forces beyond their control, this may justify a reduction or termination of their alimony obligation. However, if the truth is they willfully quit their job to avoid paying alimony, an expert witness such as an outside legal expert or private investigator could come into play and help the other spouse reveal the truth.
Ultimately, expert witnesses can play pivotal roles in any divorce case, including yours. It’s always best to approach your divorce armed with as much information and legal support as possible, so coordinate with your California divorce attorney to determine which, if any, expert witnesses should come into play in your divorce proceedings. If you need legal counsel for a divorce in California, contact the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rodgers. Should you need expert witness testimony, our firm has cultivated a strong network of professional contacts who could potentially assist in your case.