Early in the case, you and your lawyer should identify the types of experts you may need to testify in your case or to provide assistance in preparing the case for trial. Experts can be used in settlement negotiations and mediation and can even attend such sessions to promote out of court settlements.
An expert witness is a profession who is an expert in his or her field based on his or her specialized education, skills, experience, knowledge, and training. Under Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, a witness who is qualified may testify to opinions if:
(a) the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
There are many types of experts that can be useful in a divorce case. Examples are business valuators, accountants, forensic accountants, retirement experts, medical professionals mental health professionals, child psychologists, child custody evaluators, real estate appraisers, personal property appraisers, and vocational rehabilitation experts, to name a few of the most common experts.
You should discuss with your lawyer which of these experts can assist in your case. Hiring a qualified expert early in your case may be important. However, experts can be expensive, so you must determine the costs and benefits of retaining an expert. One way to reduce the costs of experts is to agree on a joint expert that both sides retain and share the costs or use marital funds. Using a jointly retained expert can save money, promote settlement, and prevent a court battle of the experts.