Whether you're involved in a negotiated divorce or a litigated one, there may come a point in time when an expert is needed to help resolve your case. An expert is a professional that may either be Court appointed, or retained by you and your spouse (separately or jointly), to provide a professional opinion on certain issues related to child custody and visitation, income and real property division to name a few. The professional opinion provided by your expert is considered reliable testimony admissible on the record and in Court.
There are several types of experts that may be beneficial to assist you in the resolution of your case and the following is a list of some professionals that you may want to consider in your divorce:
1. Psychological Experts: One example of a psychological expert is a private child custody evaluator. A child custody evaluator may recommend a permanent child custody and visitation plan based on his or her analysis of the circumstances surrounding your family amidst the divorce. Retaining a private child custody evaluator is helpful in that the expert can spend more time analyzing the situation and provide his or her professional opinion about the divorce and its effect on your children. The expert can thereby provide a more informed recommendation. A psychological expert can also assist you by providing counseling services during and after the divorce process, assisting you with any emotional needs that you may have as a result of the divorce.
2. Vocational Experts: A vocational expert may be called into a case if, for example, a spouse has not been an active member of the workforce and there is a need to evaluate this unemployed spouse and his or her ability to work now and in the future. A vocational expert will evaluate this spouse's education, skills and area of expertise to determine job prospects. This evaluation will come into play with issues related to child and spousal support.
3. Income Experts: An income expert may be needed to determine the income of you or your spouse. This, like a vocational evaluation, will be key in establishing appropriate child and spousal support.
4. Real Estate Experts: A real property expert is a professional that will conduct an appraisal of any real property that is at issue in your divorce. This professional will provide a detailed report of the value of the property and also outlines comparable sales prices for other properties nearby. The retention of a real property appraiser is beneficial if, for example, there is a dispute between you and your spouse regarding the value of the real property, or your real property is unique, of considerable value and has custom improvements that require a professional eye.
5. Business Valuation Experts: If you and your spouse are business owners, a business valuation expert may be of assistance in evaluating the business and determining what portion of the business is separate property and what portion is community property. This is necessary as you and your spouse are determining the division of assets and debts and can be extremely helpful when the business is complex in structure or is estimated to be of considerable value.
While an expert and his or her professional opinion may be beneficial in helping to bring your case to conclusion, there are important considerations you need to keep in mind. One of the more important considerations is cost. Financially, an expert's services are costly and you may need to bear the burden of the cost on your own. You will need to determine if the retention of this expert and the benefits the expert provides outweighs the overall cost.
The above list of experts is not an exhaustive list of professionals, but are the more common professionals that are called in to a case. Consulting with an attorney will help you determine if an expert is needed and what kind of professional would be favorable to resolving your divorce.