If you are involved in a family law dispute—a divorce, a child custody case, a disagreement over child support, etc.—you may need to go to court to obtain a fair and just resolution. When in family court, it is essential that you are able to present a strong, well-supported case. In some circumstances, expert witness testimony may be needed. Here, our attorneys explain the important things you should know about using expert witnesses in a family law case in Illinois.
Expert Witnesses Provide Context and Clarity For Complex Matters
Witness testimony is an important form of evidence in many kinds of legal cases. In family law disputes, there are three main types of witnesses. Fact witnesses testify to a specific event they saw or a specific matter about which they have personal knowledge. Character witnesses testify to the overall disposition of the parties involved in the case. Expert witnesses are educated specialists who help bring context and clarity to a complicated matter. In family cases, an expert witness may be called to testify regarding:
Financial issues: Financial disputes can be extremely complicated. A financial expert witness, such as a forensic accountant, may be brought in to help the court understand financial documents or records, perhaps related to claims of hidden assets or asset dissipation. Expert witnesses can also testify regarding the value of certain properties.
Parental issues: Expert witnesses are sometimes called to testify on parental matters, including those pertaining to the allocations of parental responsibilities and parenting time (child custody and child visitation). For example, a child psychologist might testify to help the court understand the child’s best interests.
Admissibility of Expert Witnesses in Family Law Cases
Illinois law recognizes that expert witness testimony can be extraordinarily powerful and compelling. It has the potential to sway the decision of the court. For this reason, there are strict rules and regulations regarding when and what kind of experts can testify in a court case. As explained in the Illinois Rules of Evidence, “Rule 702 confirms that Illinois is a Frye state.”
This means that Illinois uses a type of legal procedure known as the “Frye Standard” to determine the admissibility of an expert witness. Under state rules, an expert witness can only provide testimony in a family law case if the methodology or principles they are relying on are “widely accepted as reliable” in their given area of specialization.
Contact Our St. Charles, IL Family Law Attorneys
At Goostree Law Group, our lawyers are devoted to providing trustworthy, top-quality representation to our clients. If you have questions about expert witnesses and family law disputes, we can help. Contact our skilled Kane County family lawyers at 630-584-4800 for a free, strictly private initial legal consultation.