Sometimes experts are needed in family law cases to offer opinions and
recommendations. For instance, if the value of your house is at issue,
a real estate appraiser can be retained to offer a written opinion as
to current fair market value. Or if a family business needs to be evaluated,
an accountant can be hired to review financial records and assess its worth.
The services of experts are often crucial in family law matters, but those
services come at a fairly high price. Experts generally charge an hourly
rate, and require a retainer similar to an attorney. In a litigated matter,
each party usually retains their own competing expert to volley opinions
back and forth.
In a mediation, the parties can decide to jointly retain a single expert
when such evaluation is necessary. This reduces friction in that there
aren't competing opinions, and it cuts costs. The expert works for
both parties, relies on information provided by both parties, and transparently
delivers a final report that both parties can review with the mediator.
The expert's opinion can then be used by the mediator to discuss options
for an agreement. It's the best of both worlds: you receive the benefit
of an impartial and expert opinion, yet you're not beholden to that
opinion as you would be in court.