Dayton:   (937) 223-0697                 West Chester:  (513) 785-0822

      Dayton:   (937) 223-0697                 West Chester:  (513) 785-0822

What is an Expert Witness in a Divorce?

by Mar 26, 2021Legal advice0 comments

Some divorces are easier and more straightforward than others to resolve. When both parties
agree on most, if not all of the important issues, it is likely that you will only need a family
attorney to help you handle your case in an equitable way. Other divorces, however, are
complicated and involve child custody, alimony, and asset division issues. Sometimes an expert
witness will be needed to get accurate and thorough answers that will help resolve major
differences in your case.

What is an Expert Witness?

An expert witness is a person who is permitted to testify at a trial because of special knowledge or proficiency in a particular field that is relevant to the case. Testimonies from expert witnesses
can have an influence on the final decision of the judge. An expert witness must practice in a
profession relevant to the issue of the case, be skilled in their particular profession, and have
specialized knowledge through training, education, or practical experience. Their testimony must
be based on an accepted principle or method that is commonly used in that particular field or
based on sufficient data and factual information. They will provide a reliable opinion to help the
fact finders reach a conclusion and will make connections in your case that were not previously
apparent.

In Ohio, the witness’ testimony needs to relate to the matter beyond the knowledge or experience
of a non-expert, they have the experience, training, or education regarding the the subject matter
of your suit, and the witnesses testimony will report the result of a procedure, test, or experiment,
and it will be reliable only if it is objectively verifiable or is validly derived from widely
accepted knowledge, facts, or principles, the design of the procedure, test, or experiment reliably
assists the theory, and the particular procedure, test, or experiment was conducted in a way that
will yield an accurate result.

When Will an Expert Witness Help my Case?

An expert witness will help your case in many areas. They are used anytime an objective opinion needs to
be given to the court. They are used for business valuations, psychology, appraisals for real estate, present
value pensions, among other things.

Psychologists

Psychologists may be called on as experts to evaluate both fitness and custody evaluations. They
can be expected to evaluate the parent’s relationship with the child or each other. The
psychologist may make recommendations to the court as to which party should retain or gain
custody of the child based on the child’s best interest. Psychologists also assess the mental health
and abilities of the parties to determine whether the parent is fit to be the residential parent of the
minor. The psychologist may also evaluate your child to determine their mental health state and
their environment. They will weigh factors such as cultural and environmental variables, family
dynamics and interactions, as well as the child’s psychological, physical, and educational needs.
A psychologist can be expected to become familiar with the legal procedures and standards that
govern the jurisdiction the case is in. The court may take into consideration the experience of the
psychology, their background, their education, and how long they have practiced.

Appraisals

Property division is an important issue in any divorce proceeding. To ensure a fair and equitable
division of assets, determining the correct and proper value of assets and properties is crucial. An
appraiser may be called as an expert witness in any case where the parties are arguing over value,
usually of the marital home. Real estate is the most common field in which an appraiser’s help is
sought. The value of real property can range spending on a variety of factors. The value of the
home can be difficult, if not impossible to determine without an expert witness’ knowledge. The
appraisers will be asked to discuss their method for determining the value of property in order to
help your case and establish that a performed appraisal is too high, too low, or just right. The
opposing party is also welcomed to hire their own appraiser to value the property as well.

Present Value Pensions

Many couples will find it hard to have a conversation about what should happen with their
pensions, especially when a divorce is happening prior to retirement age and thus, focused on
how their divorce may affect them in the future, years or even decades away. Often in divorces,
pensions are the second largest asset behind the marital home, if not the largest asset the parties
have. It is important for both parties to understand the real-time values of their pensions. A present value represents an amount of money you need to have in your account today to meet a
future expense or a series of future cash outflows, given a specified rate of return. This becomes
important when looking at retirement benefits in a divorce proceeding. A pensions expert will
testify as to the present value of a marital pension benefit. Individuals in this area of law have a
substantial background in work with retirement plans. They will often be able to identify issues
which have been overlooked by others like inflation problems and how that relates to their
pension. Pensions are exceedingly complex, and their value is often not appreciated. A present
value pensions expert is likely to assist in your case for important matters like these.
Business Valuations
Many individuals own businesses that are now considered assets and may be considered in a
divorce proceeding. As with other assets, the business may be separate property or marital
property. If one spouse owned the interest before marriage or received it as a gift or inheritance,
then it will be considered separate property. However, property, including a business, owned at
the time of divorce is considered to be marital property unless proven otherwise. A business
valuation refers to the process of determining the actual value of a business. The expert will
work with business owners to obtain an objective estimate on their company’s value. This will
then, in turn, assist the attorneys and the court in determining how the property should be
distributed during a divorce proceeding.

This article is based on general information and is not intended as legal advice. Each divorce
proceeding is unique and any specific questions about your case should be directed to your
attorney.