Not every divorce trial needs expert witnesses. However, when used effectively, they can sway the course of a trial in favor of a husband or wife. Divorces involving complex estates, medical issues, alimony, hidden money, or contested custody issues may require the use of one or more expert witnesses. Using experts from different fields can be an excellent way to tip the scales in your favor in a contested trial.
Because of their specialized area of knowledge, experts have credibility with the court. If qualified properly by a skilled attorney, they will help negate hearsay objections, and, by combining the information of third parties, they are an effective solution against having to subpoena multiple other witnesses on the same topic.
The most common types of expert witnesses used in divorce cases are business valuators, forensic accountants, certified divorce financial analysts, medical doctors, child custody evaluators, therapists, Guardian Ad Litems, private investigators, psychologists, and vocational experts that specialize in the employability and skills of a particular person.
When child custody is contested, courts often hear from a Guardian Ad Litem, child psychologists or counselors to learn what may be in the best interest of the child(ren) regarding visitation time with each parent. These experts can be very influential to the Court, because of their credibility and neutrality.
Regarding alimony requests, vocational experts can help determine a spouse’s earning potential and employment prospects. They educate the courts about how being out of the workforce or how limited work experience can affect someone’s ability to get a job. They can help a judge understand if someone requires additional education or time to realistically obtain suitable employment and become self-supportive. Doctors or medical experts can also be helpful if someone has a limited ability to work due to a medical condition.
Frivolous Spending & Hidden Money
When one spouse is hiding money or frivolously spending marital assets, a forensic accountant can be useful. Forensic accountants can trace and categorize spending and provide effective testimony in court. They are skilled at finding assets that a spouse wants to hide and can help an attorney subpoena the appropriate accounts to discover hidden assets. They will assemble a paper trail to support their testimony, which can be helpful for the Court. Forensic accountants can be extremely useful in cases with more complex estates and can help look for assets that are sometimes overlooked like stock options, deferred compensation, cryptocurrency, or receivables.
When one or both spouses own a business, the valuation and division of that business can become contentious in a divorce. The courts in Georgia often take the stance that dental and medical practices, franchises, and other businesses not in the nature of professional services are subject to equitable division in a divorce.
There are three principal methods for determining the value of a business, and the trial court chooses which method it will apply.
When divorces involve business ownership, it can be very useful to hire a certified business valuation expert. Courts typically award ownership of the business to one of the spouses. The other spouse is compensated with other marital assets to offset the value of the business. Other marital assets usually include a marital residence, retirement assets, liquid assets in savings or investment accounts, or non-taxable alimony payments.
SPEAK WITH A QUALIFIED DIVORCE ATTORNEY
Speak with a knowledgeable divorce attorney about what expert witnesses may be appropriate for your case, and how they can add value. When hiring a divorce attorney, it’s important to ask if they have experience working with expert witnesses.
The Marietta family law attorneys at Bivek Brubaker & Prescott are happy to answer any questions you have about your divorce. Please, do not hesitate to contact us or call 404-793-6530 to speak with one of our highly qualified attorneys!