Experts in Family Law Cases
March 29, 2019


DivorceSometimes in family law cases, an outside expert is necessary to assist the parties or the court in resolving a divorce, support or custody matter.

For example, in a divorce, the parties typically own a residence and may disagree as to the value of the residence.  If there is a disagreement, one spouse may decide to retain the services of a certified real estate appraiser to determine the marital value of the residence. In some cases, the parties may agree to jointly retain an appraiser and share the cost of the appraisal.  Parties may own multiple real estate properties, perhaps including commercial buildings, in which case, there may be a need for more than one appraiser as, typically, real estate appraisers are certified in either residential or commercial properties.

Also in a divorce situation, one spouse may own all or part of a business, in which case it might be necessary to retain the services of a business valuation expert to determine the marital value of the business owner’s interest in the business.  Again, the parties may decide to jointly retain such an expert, or they may decide to each get their own expert valuation.  Whether the parties decide to jointly retain an expert or each gets their own usually depends on how contentious the case may be.

When one party is a business owner in a child and/or spousal support case, depending on the business entity and how the party is paid, it is often helpful to retain an expert to determine the business owner’s actual gross income for calculating support.

In a child custody case, where the parents cannot agree as to a custody schedule for their child or children, a custody evaluation conducted by an experienced mental health professional can be extremely helpful.  The custody evaluator will use his or her expertise to evaluate the situation and make a recommendation for custody.

If you are unable to settle your family law matter and end up in court, any expert report that you obtained in advance, whether it is a real estate appraisal, a business valuation, an income determination or custody evaluation may be presented to the court, provided all the appropriate court rules have been followed, to assist the judge in making a final decision.

Retaining an expert in your family law case is, obviously, not without additional cost and should not be a decision made without thorough discussion with your attorney.  But experts can be very helpful and maybe the extra step needed to come to a final resolution in your case.

 




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