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, or hidden money may require the use of one or more expert witnesses. Using experts from different fields can be an excellent way to gain some leverage in hotly contested trials.
Because of their specialized area of knowledge, experts have credibility with the court. They 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, 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 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 help craft a child-centered plan to minimize behavioral issues that may surface because of divorce.
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.
Secret Spending & Hidden Money
When one spouse is hiding money or secretly spending marital assets, a forensic accountant can be useful. Forensic accountants can trace spending to third parties and provide effective testimony in court. They will assemble a paper trail to support their testimony, which can be damaging to the perpetrating spouse. Judges have a great deal of discretion in deciding what is a fair division of the marital estate. When it comes to secret spending or hidden assets, judges may award the adversely affected spouse a much larger share of the marital assets.
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 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!