When you’re going through a divorce, it helps to have people on your side. That should include supportive friends and family as well as a great attorney. However, you may miss out on critical assistance if you stop there. You can make your divorce that much smoother by adding an extra member to your team: an expert witness.
Expert witnesses can be invaluable for supporting your claims if you need to take your divorce to court. Here’s what you need to know about these witnesses, how they can help you, and where you can find the experts you need to argue your case successfully.
What Is an Expert Witness?
An expert witness is a person who has significant professional experience and knowledge in their field. These witnesses have credentials and resumes that support their claims to be experts on specific topics. As a result, they can take part in legal proceedings to lend weight to arguments.
These people are set apart from standard witnesses because of their knowledge. The average person can make basic observations and report what they’ve seen. However, they are unlikely to have industry-specific information and skills that allow them to perform in-depth analyses of a situation. Meanwhile, expert witnesses can do just that.
For example, the average person can look at a house and the surrounding neighborhood and estimate a general price for the property. An expert like a real estate appraiser can perform an in-depth inspection to spot issues, then compare that information to other homes in the area to identify the precise value of the house.
Necessary Qualifications for Expert Witnesses
A person needs to be able to prove their expertise before they can be considered an “expert” witness in California. According to the state legal code, these professionals must have “special knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education sufficient to qualify him as an expert on the subject to which his testimony relates.” Furthermore, they must be able to prove their qualifications if the other party objects to their expertise.
These professionals may be cross-examined just like any other witness. They should be able to support their qualifications, how their field is relevant to the case, and the accuracy of their opinion and testimony under pressure. They must also swear to give an accurate and honest opinion regardless of compensation by either party.
How Can Expert Witnesses Simplify Divorces?
Expert witnesses play instrumental roles in many legal cases, including divorces. There are a wide variety of professionals you can call upon as experts in your split, including:
- Forensic CPAs: These accountants are dedicated to nailing down your marital finances, including your income, your spouse’s income, and any and all accounts either of you may have. Forensic CPAs are invaluable for getting a fair child and spousal support orders by ensuring your partner isn’t hiding any assets from you.
- Real estate appraisers: As mentioned above, a real estate appraiser can help you put a hard number on the value of your house.
- Business appraisers: If you’re an entrepreneur or have a family business with your spouse, a business appraiser will help you determine the value of your business to help divide assets.
- Collections appraisers: Similarly, art and auction professionals can provide their opinions on the actual value of any collectibles you may need to split with your spouse.
- Social workers: If you’re fighting for child custody, a social worker can support your claim that it’s in your children’s best interest not to spend time with their other parent.
- Doctors: Medical professionals can back up your claim if you need spousal support because you cannot work due to your health. They can also provide testimony if you’ve been suffering from physical abuse.
- Psychologists: A psychologist can be invaluable if your spouse’s mental health puts you or your children in danger. Their testimony can help you get a restraining order or avoid paying spousal support to an abusive ex.
However, any disagreement within your divorce may benefit from an expert witness. You can discuss the issue with your divorce lawyer to decide whether hiring an expert is the right solution for your dispute.
Where to Find Expert Witnesses
Once you’ve determined that you want some extra experts on your side, it’s time to find them. There are a few ways you can search for the right professionals to testify in your divorce, including:
- Contact someone who already knows you. If you need a doctor, psychologist, or social worker, the first place to look is within your current support system. No one’s more qualified to discuss your mental or physical health or your children’s safety than those who already work with you on these topics.
- Research local experts in related fields. If you need more specialized help, you can research local professionals in the industry. For example, most cities host multiple professional appraisers specializing in different items. You can bring in these experts to place specific prices on your most valuable possessions and ensure that you split your marital assets fairly.
- Ask your lawyer for recommendations. When you work with a qualified divorce attorney, they are often your best resource for finding expert witnesses. Experienced lawyers have seen it all before and have worked with experts in different fields. You can work with your lawyer to find the perfect experts to assist during your divorce.
Start Building a Team of Experts with Kaspar & Lugay, LLP
There’s no time like the present to improve your chances of a successful split. You can get started by building your team of experts to support your claims, ensuring your divorce can proceed smoothly. The first step is connecting with experienced, dedicated attorneys who can help you get in touch with the rest of the experts you need.
The qualified California divorce lawyers at Kaspar & Lugay, LLP are prepared to help you navigate your divorce with less stress and confusion. They can help you find expert witnesses who will make a difference in court. Get in touch today to learn more about how our team can support you through your divorce.