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What Role Do Experts Play in Divorce Litigation?

In divorce matters, the divorce lawyer establishes the strategy and execute the plan, but experts often play a critical role in the outcome of the case. Retaining the right expert is extremely important. As with divorce lawyers, all experts are not created equal. An incompetent or unqualified expert can destroy a case.

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Family law is far more complex than is generally understood. It is litigation not unlike business litigation. The Evidence Code and the Code of Civil Procedure apply in divorce matters as they do in other types of litigation. A divorce is, to a large degree, the division of partnership assets. The same fiduciary duties exist between parties both before and after separation, as exist in corporate and partnership relationships. If civil cases don’t settle, they proceed to trial. The same is true of divorce matters.

Divorcing parties can agree to divide assets, resolve issues and settle their differences on almost any basis they choose. However, if they do not settle their conflicts, they may end up in a courtroom. Litigation may involve the testimony of experts. In a divorce, an expert is an individual who has special knowledge, skill, expertise, training or education that makes the expert’s opinions helpful to a divorce court on a contested issue. Experts are almost mandatory when certain issues are involved. The qualifications and credibility of an expert can be critical to the weight given to the expert’s opinions by the divorce court. The early retention of an expert can significantly enhance the chances of a favorable settlement.