An expert witness is a professional qualified as having the knowledge, skill, experience, training or education in a particular area beyond that of an average person, who may testify in court based upon sufficient facts or data. When a couple is embroiled in a child custody dispute, an expert witness such as a mental health professional can offer testimony in court that may shed light on pertinent issues unique to your case. This might include theoretical or research based principles that support a claim of parental alienation, sexual abuse, the best interests of a special needs child, or any other highly specialized topic.
When it comes to expert witness testimony, some expert witnesses will offer testimony based on their general knowledge, training or experience on a topic as opposed to an expert witness who has firsthand knowledge of the case.
An example of the former might include an expert on the subject of parental alienation who can educate the court on what parental alienation entails and the frequency in which it occurs in custody cases.
An example of the latter, might include an expert witness who has firsthand knowledge of a case, such as an expert who reveals specific flaws in the method of investigation used to prove that parental alienation occurred.
It is also possible for an expert witness who is not a clinician to offer testimony based on document review under certain conditions.
There are advantages and disadvantages to hiring an expert witness. If you hire an expert witness, particularly one with name recognition who is respected in their field, the other side will understand that you take the case seriously and be more inclined to settle. Another advantage is an expert witness is in a better position to explain to the judge your issues of concern and address any arguments against you in a clear and compelling manner.
Disadvantages include the court not allowing the testimony of the expert, or the court perceiving an expert witness as a hired gun who is unfairly weighing on one side. Hiring an expert witness might also prompt the other side to hire one of their own expert witnesses who may offer more compelling testimony. The decision to hire an expert witness should be made thoughtfully with the help of your attorney and really depends on the unique issues surrounding your case.
Schlesinger & Strauss provides high quality family law services throughout Lake county and Chicago’s northern collar suburbs. Our attorneys handle all areas of family law, including divorce, child custody and visitation, child support, mediation, domestic violence, military family law, grandparent’s and children’s rights issues. When you are facing a potential custody dispute in your divorce, it is important to discuss your legal options with an experienced Illinois family law attorney. Contact the family law offices of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC today for assistance at 847-680-4970.