Our firm has developed a reputation for handling complex family law cases. Some of these cases come to us because the issues at stake are complicated, novel, or just plain messy and other attorneys who may not have the resources or the experience necessary to handle them send them our way. In many of these cases, we advise our clients to hire one or more experts to assist with the case preparation and to testify at trial if the case does not settle. Many clients have never considered they would need to hire an expert to help with their case, and likewise, will ask us if it's "really a necessary expense" and "will it really help" their case. Read on to find out why both answers is a resounding YES.
What Kinds of Experts Do We Hire?
It depends on the case. For complex child custody cases, we might advise our client to hire a psychological expert to attack the results of a court-ordered psychological evaluation. In cases where the other side has already hired a psychological expert to testify, we may hire a consulting expert (someone who does not testify at trial) to assist our firm in researching the other side's expert's body of work to find something to refute their credibility on the stand (otherwise known as "impeaching" them).
For example, we once handled a very contested custody case where the opposing side hired one of the most renowned forensic psychologists in the nation to testify on their behalf. However, because our client had hired a consulting expert to help design our cross-examination of the expert, we were armed with a research article the expert had written and published which argued the opposite of the opinion he was presenting to the Court. It made all the difference in the case.
If we are handling high asset cases or cases which involve hard-to-value marital property such as businesses, antiques, retirement and investment accounts, or lots of real estate, hiring an expert to sort out the proper methods for valuation depending on the type of property to be valued is appropriate and necessary. In one case, we were able to net our client tens of thousands of dollars extra in the marital settlement agreement simply because she hired a financial expert to help review whether the valuation of the spouse's retirement and investment accounts was done properly (it wasn't!).
Is It Really Worth It to Hire the Expert?
In both of the cases referenced above, the cost of the expert was a fraction of what was gained for our client at trial. In the custody example, a parent regained full custody of a child. In the financial case, our client walked away from the negotiating table with tens of thousands of extra dollars than she ever thought she'd get in the final divorce settlement. Many would consider those benefits to be well worth the extra cost on the front end to properly prepare the family court case from the beginning.
If you are facing a complex family law case, be sure to hire an attorney who has a large network of experts to consult with about your case, if necessary. Interview your attorney about how many cases he or she has used experts to determine how experienced the attorney is with working with these experts. Your case's outcome is worth the extra time and money to prepare properly so that the chance of a positive result is as high as possible for you and your family.
The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce, including cases which require special attention from experts. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us at (864) 598-9172 to schedule an initial consultation.