Do I Need an Expert Witness in My Child Custody Case?
Courtroom dramas on television and in the cinema often have as the climax of their stories the testimony from an experienced witness. This testimony “seals the deal” for one of the parties and makes a judgment in their favor inevitable. Whether it is the ballistics expert from the crime lab or the seasoned psychologist who provides the crucial insight into the killer’s mind, these courtroom shows can leave someone with the impression that the litigant who can present testimony from an expert has a distinct advantage over the other litigant in the courtroom. But is this assumption true?
Experts Help Judges and Juries Understand Specialized Information
It may surprise some people to learn that expert witnesses are not always permitted in every case. In most cases, an expert witness is only permitted to testify where there is some scientific or other complicated evidence that a normal individual with no specialized background or education would understand. The court will ultimately decide whether an expert witness is necessary in a given case.
For example, an expert witness is not needed to testify regarding your child’s reactions when he or she must go to the other parent’s residence for parenting time – you yourself can testify as to tantrums, crying fits, and other behaviors that you witness that clearly demonstrate a dislike for being at the other parent’s home. On the other hand, expert witness testimony may be necessary to explain confusing behavior patterns that your child is exhibiting (i.e., if your child is normally talkative but has recently become withdrawn or if your child is normally a straight-A student but his or her grades suddenly drop).
There are specific procedures that must be followed in order to be able to present expert testimony at trial. Usually the other party must be given advance notice of your intention to use the testimony of a specific expert and in most cases the other party must be given an opportunity to question that expert before trial.
Does Expert Testimony Win Cases?
Unlike what you may see on television or in the movies, expert testimony does not always determine the outcome of your case. An expert witness who lacks credentials, whose opinion has been discredited in other cases, or who has not invested the time necessary to understand the situation about which he or she is being asked to testify is of little use to a litigant. An experienced Illinois family law attorney should be able to easily show such an expert’s opinion has little weight in determining the issues in your case.
DuPage County Child Custody Attorney Provides Advice and Counsel
Your skilled DuPage County child custody lawyer or family law attorney can discuss with you whether an expert witness would be beneficial in your case. If so, our firm has the resources necessary to help you retain the services of the right expert witness for your situation. Contact us today to have one of our knowledgeable Illinois family law attorneys review your case and help you formulate a plan to achieve your divorce or child custody objectives. We have offices in Oswego and Wheaton for your convenience.