Razai & Nefulda: 9701 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1000, Beverly Hills, California 90212. Telephone: 310-858-8181.

The Expert Dilemma – Who and When to Hire

Every case is unique. The resources needed in the process of resolving each case are also unique. Some of the most often utilized or under-utilized resources in the divorce process are experts that may make the difference of a winning claim or a losing claim. In child custody cases, experts can include:

1. Child custody evaluators who are appointed by the Court (also known as 730 child custody evaluations) to make a best interest analysis and recommendation to the Court. This is especially useful in cases of high-conflict parenting, allegations of domestic violence (when children are involved), or where the issues require a closer look at the issues at hand.

2. Child custody investigations through the Court. There is no “psychological” component in the CCI process as there are no tests administered by the Court personnel. Instead, it more of a “fact finding” process where parents, children and third party witnesses are interviewed by Court personnel and recommendations made to the Court.

3. Therapist who are involved either in the reunification process (reunifying parents with their children) or in cases where case managers may be necessary in highly contested cases where parents are unable to co-parent or communicate with one another.

In financial cases, experts may include the following:

1. Forensic accountants to determine cash flow, business valuations, tracing of separate property claims (where commingling has occurred in accounts, assets, etc.), reimbursements for post-separation payment of debts exclusively by one parent, among other issues that can be accomplished with a forensic accountant.

2. Vocational evaluations in cases where one party is not working, is underemployed or is refusing to work. The vocational evaluator will not only administer various tests, but he or she will also run market opportunities and make a recommendation as to what the earning capacity or ability of the party should be (and then it is up to the Court to impute income despite the fact that one party may not be working or underemployed).

3. Independent Medical Examinations in cases where one party claims a medical issue or disability that precludes the party from gainfully working or being employed.

4. Actuaries who can determine the community versus separate property components in various retirement/pension accounts and plans. This is especially helpful in cases where the parties are attempting to settle their cases but need to determine the actual cash value of plans that may not have a readily available corresponding cash value (in the case of pensions by way of example).