By: Johanna E. Blumenthal
An expert is somebody who is uniquely qualified by his/her education, knowledge and experience to offer opinions regarding matters that are scientific, technical or that require specialized knowledge. See C.R.E. Rule 702. Although any witness could potentially by certified as an expert by the court if he/she possess the requisite education, knowledge and experience, not every witness can offer expert opinions to the court.
In some family law cases, hiring an expert is crucial to the success of your case. This is particularly true when your case turns on a fact that requires an expert opinion (an opinion that is based upon specialized knowledge). For example, if your case is based upon a showing that your child’s emotional development is being substantially impaired, you will likely need a developmental psychologist to offer an expert opinion regarding this and why this is the case.
Even if your case does not strictly need an expert, many cases benefit from the use of experts as expert opinions can be useful to: 1) facilitate settlement (when the impasse between the parties is being caused by a dispute that an expert opinion can resolve); 2) offer recommendations and solutions (when the parties are truly unsure what is correct or best under the circumstances); 3) facilitate the admission of evidence in the court proceeding (when you need to get into evidence hearsay statements of a minor, a minor’s therapist or even just consolidate a lot of information into a more digestible format) and/or 3) bolster one party’s position. While the use of experts flows from C.R.E. Rule 702, in most family law cases, C.R.C.P. Rule 16.2 is going to govern timing in terms of disclosing experts for court. Continue reading