The Use of Experts In Divorce Cases
By Teresa A. Drexler
The Gasper Law Group
Divorce matters can be complex both financially and with respect to parenting issues. There are many options for retaining experts to help sort through the complexities of a case, however, experts can be costly. Therefore, it is important to consider all the facts of your case and analyze whether an expert really can benefit your case or if you will expend a great sum of money to get very little in return. The attorneys at The Gasper Law Group are well equipped to help you through this type of analysis.
The easiest way to utilize experts in a divorce case is to have the parties agree to a neutral expert. A neutral expert agreed upon by the parties may carry greater weight with the court. Typically if the parties agree on a neutral expert the costs of that expert are split and in the end you have a neutral evaluator to write a report – either financial or regarding parenting issues – and present that report to the court. Courts are more inclined to adopt the recommendations of a neutral expert due to the fact that the parties agreed on that expert. Because of this, cases tend to settle in mediation, saving the parties money, because the parties know the court is more likely to adopt the neutral expert report.
When the need arises to hire a parenting expert, parties must understand that if an expert is requested, retained and paid for by one of the parties, this does not mean that expert is that parties’ “hired gun.” Children’s experts are retained to look out for the best interest of the children. Do not expect that just because you paid for a majority or the entire bill that the children’s expert will come down in your favor. There are different options for parenting experts, all of which result in different costs and different types of evaluations. You should discuss with your attorney which expert is best for your case.
In complex financial cases, parties may retain their own individual expert to represent their interest. Depending on the documents and information provided for review, the retained expert may or may not be able to provide the client the outcome they desire. The court will still order an outcome that is equitable. Your expert might present a proposal to the court for division of property that is favorable to you as the client, however, there is no guarantee the court will find the proposal equitable to both parties.
The bottom line is that parties should not retain experts for the sole purpose of “getting their way” in court. It simply does not work like that. The court must follow statutes and case law when awarding parenting time and dividing property and debts. An expert does not guarantee an outcome.