Your case may require or benefit from the use of court-appointed or individually-hire experts that can act as expert witnesses, as discussed in Case Phase 3. The specialists may be needed for a range of different purposes in your case, and the best way to know what will be necessary or what you can expect is to speak with an attorney.
After all, each case is different, and there’s not a “norm” when it comes to experts. The amount of time looking for and working with the experts can vary, too. This part of the case phase can last between two and 12 months, and it takes place alongside the phases.
What Types of Experts Are Involved?
Again, because all cases are different, various types of experts could be used as experts in divorce. This will often include financial experts or behavioral health experts. In some cases, they might be witnesses. Other times, they might be appointed to provide certain types of services or evaluations. Let’s get a closer look at some of the common ways the expert witnesses might become involved.
In Arizona, when cases involve parenting time and legal decision-making, the courts will want the parties involved to reach agreements instead of going to trial if possible. It will provide the divorcing couple with more control over what happens with their family. On the other hand, if the case goes to trial because nothing is solved in the parenting conference, the judge will be the one who makes the final decision.
This type of conference is a meeting between the divorcing couple and the conference provider. It’s important to realize that anything you say during this conference can be used against you in your divorce case later.
The conference provider will write a report after the conference concludes. It will include everything that happened at the conference. The provider can provide the court with more information about the body language of the parties involved, their demeanor, and more. If someone acts aggressively, for example, this will be included in the report. You must remember to act professionally during this conference.
You need to think about how you answer questions and the type of language you are using. Your attorney could help you get a better sense of what you can expect at these conferences. Be respectful to your ex and the provider, and make sure you are on time for the conference.
Keep in mind that it’s not necessary to reach an agreement during the parenting conference. It would be nice for you if you could, but if you do not agree with what your ex is asking or saying, you don’t have to agree. It also means that they may not agree with you, of course. Don’t do anything or agree to anything that would negatively affect your ability to be with your kids.
You may have heard the term court-appointed advisor, and not be entirely clear about what it means. These advisors are simply someone that the family court will appoint to investigate certain facts, typically regarding legal decision-making and parenting time issues.
If there are allegations about abuse, neglect, domestic violence, drug use, etc., one of these advisors may be appointed to investigate. They will then report on their findings and bring their recommendation to the court. The Arizona courts take the recommendations of the advisors seriously.
The court-appointed advisor has a substantial amount of authority when working on behalf of the court. They can obtain criminal records, medical records, school records, and any other record that is deemed appropriate to aid in the investigation. They will also interview the parents and anyone else they feel will be needed to help them make a recommendation.
Business Valuation Expert
In some divorces, one or both parties will own a business. It might be a family business or a business that only one of the spouses operates. Regardless, it will need to be properly valued during the divorce. This can be a contentious issue because most people want to keep their business and don’t like the idea of giving anything up to their spouse. Hiring a third party, instead of biased expert witnesses, to do the valuation will often be required, so the accurate value of the business can be determined.
When getting divorced, all parties are supposed to be transparent when it comes to their finances and property. They are required to disclose assets and debts to be divided. However, there have been cases where certain property or assets have been hidden from the court. It could be a secret bank account or an unknown retirement account, for example.
To help reduce the risk of this occurring, forensic analysis experts are often brought into the case to explore the finances. They look for these hidden elements and ensure that they are brought to light and can be divided properly.
Comprehensive Family Assessment
Comprehensive family assessments, or evaluations, used to be known as comprehensive custody evaluations. These are certain appointments the court might require in a divorce case where children are involved. They are required when there is a high amount of conflict between the parents. This could be due to substance abuse, domestic violence, alienation, or mental health issues, for example.
A CFA can be a time-consuming process, as it tends to be in-depth. The expert who evaluates the parents will provide recommendations to the court on what should happen. It’s important to remember that even though the courts in Arizona would like for both parents to have time with the kids, they will always strive to do what’s best for the children.
Get in Touch with Your Attorney
As mentioned earlier, dealing with court-appointed experts, and even hiring expert witnesses, will differ from one divorce case to the next. Some simple divorces may not require any at all. Complex and highly-contested divorces, on the other hand, may require multiple experts like those discussed above. Take the time to speak with your attorney about the use of experts and how they could impact your case.