How Are Expert Witnesses Utilized in a Divorce?

DuPage County Divorce Lawyers

DivorceEven in the most straightforward, amicable divorce, the process is not simply completed between the divorcing partners. Generally, each spouse retains his or her own lawyer and in many divorces, other professionals become involved in the process to ensure that the couple's settlement complies with Illinois law. These other professionals are known as expert witnesses. They provide insight to issues present in the couple's divorce based on their own professional experience and this insight is used to make fair determinations regarding the division of the couple's assets, their parenting time and child support agreements, and their spousal maintenance agreement.

Who Are Expert Witnesses?

Expert witnesses are individuals who utilize their professional expertise to advise the court about decisions in a couple's divorce settlement.

When determining an appropriate parenting time agreement, a child psychologist might be asked to work with the family to determine the parenting time schedule that best meets the child's emotional, physical, psychological, and academic needs. Other individuals whose insight can play a role in determining an appropriate parenting time agreement include the child's pediatrician, teachers, and other adults who spend a significant amount of time with the child.

To determine an appropriate spousal maintenance agreement, a vocational expert might be asked to weigh in on the career prospects for the partner seeking maintenance. This expert can discuss that partner's current earning capacity and, if the individual seeking maintenance is planning to attend school or vocational training to become financially self-sufficient, the vocational expert can discuss the time and monetary cost of this training so the court can determine an appropriate maintenance amount and length of time for the individual to receive it. Financial advisers can also be asked to provide insight to this determination by discussing each partner's individual assets and the couple's marital assets and their value.

When determining a fair way to divide the couple's assets, experts such as a financial adviser or an accountant may be asked to provide insight. For the couple's home or other properties, a real estate appraiser may have to appraise the properties to determine a fair market value. If a small business is part of the couple's asset pool, a business valuator might be asked to evaluate the business to determine its market value.

Expert witnesses do not make decisions for the court. Rather, they aid the court in the decision-making process. In some cases, the expert witness' role is fairly minor and in others, it is quite substantial.

Should I Work with an Expert Witness?

In many divorces, at least one expert witness is involved to provide testimony. In some cases, multiple expert witnesses are utilized. Talk to your lawyer about the issues present in your divorce to determine whether or not you will need to work with one to reach fair settlements. Although they can sometimes be expensive, going through the divorce process without an expert witness' contributions can prove to be more expensive for you in the long run.

Work with an Experienced DuPage County Family Law Firm

If you are considering filing for divorce, it is in your best interest that you work with an experienced Illinois divorce lawyer to guide you through the process and represent your case. Your lawyer can determine whether working with an expert witness would be beneficial to your case and if so, find an appropriate expert witness within his or her professional network. To get started with a member of our team of experienced DuPage County divorce lawyers, contact The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. to set up your initial legal consultation with us. Call 630-462-9500 to receive assistance today.