When Is It Appropriate to Use an Expert Witness in a Divorce Proceeding?

When spouses fight over not only which personal and real property each spouse will receive but also how much every item is worth, a divorce can become exasperating.

Then factor in the couple’s opposing views on issues of child custody, support, and visitation, and you can imagine how exponentially worse the entire situation can become.

Using an Expert

Qualified expert witnesses are permitted to testify in contested divorce actions on a variety of subjects, including the value of:

  • The marital home and other real estate;
  • A family business and each party’s potential share; and
  • High-value personal property and collectibles such as boats, art, jewelry, guns, and rare coins.

Experts can also be called on to evaluate each spouse’s current income earning potential for purposes which could include determining child support and/or maintenance (alimony).

A party may elect to hire a professional counselor to interview the children and meet with their teachers, babysitters, and close relatives before reporting to the court which arrangements for custody and visitation are in the best interests of the children.

When one or both of the parents are in ill health or dependent on drugs or alcohol, an expert may be asked to evaluate one or both of the parents’ mental and physical fitness to raise the child or to be granted visitation.

High Fees and No Guarantees

For an expert’s testimony to be an acceptable contribution, his or her opinion must be formed objectively and independent of the ideas and preferences of the party paying the expert’s fees.

The expert may be required to testify in court, which costs an additional fee. Hiring an expert is an expensive prospect, and the party who hires the expert may be disappointed in the event the expert’s opinion favors the opposition.

In cases of property evaluations, the expert must have time to view and appraise the property, compare it with comparable properties, and then possibly prepare and file a report.

An expert hired to make child custody recommendations spends time meeting with the child and close relatives, interviewing school teachers and childcare associates, and taking other steps to ascertain what is best for the children.

Overall, using an expert is an expensive and time-consuming choice with no guarantee that he or she will align with your position or that the court will be persuaded by the expert testimony to rule in your favor.

Contact A St. Louis Divorce Attorney

Whether or not to use expert testimony in your divorce case is a question you can decide with the advice and guidance of your Divorce Attorney. Call (636) 552-4841 today for a Free Consultation and speak with Jay Galmiche, a seasoned St. Louis Divorce Attorney with 40 years of experience. The Galmiche Law Firm, P.C. serves the areas of Chesterfield, Ballwin, Town & Country, and Wildwood, Missouri, along with surrounding areas.

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