Experts in Family Proceedings

When resolving the division of matrimonial finances as part of a divorce it’s important as a lawyer that you know the boundaries of your advice and when there is the need to use an expert. The use of experts is governed by Rules which the court expect parties to follow and such experts are only instructed when it is ‘necessary’. More often than not the experts are instructed on a Single Joint basis.

The following are common examples of experts that are used:

Surveyors

Parties tend to obtain valuations of properties by using local estate agents so they can agree the value of properties. If there is then a dispute this is resolved by instructing a RICS qualified surveyor.

Pensions

Often the largest assets of the marriage. Pension Experts are used regularly. In July 2019 ‘A Guide to the Treatment of Pensions on Divorce’ was published by the Pension Advisory Group to assist parties and the court as to when it is appropriate to use such experts. The fact it took 2 years to publish the Guide is a reflection of how difficult it can be to resolve the division of pensions on divorce.

Forensic Accountant

Where there is a business a forensic accountant can be instructed to value a party’s interest or ascertain the liquidity of that interest. This helps decide how the value can be apportioned as part of a financial settlement.

Tax Advisors

Tax is something that cannot be overlooked in a financial settlement. This is because when selling or transferring assets there could be a capital gains tax liability. The tax needs to be taken into account to understand the true value of the assets. Also, if money as part of a settlement can be extracted from a business then there could be income tax consequences if for example such payments are made through dividends.

Financial Advisors

Investment advice will often be required so that a financial settlement (capital and pensions) can be invested correctly. Also, during the case you may need to speak to a Financial Advisor to gain an understanding about certain investments.

Occupational Therapist

Not used too often but where a party claims they cannot work for health reasons then an expert may be required to ascertain the true extent of this.

Other experts can also be used depending on the circumstances of the case. Not all experts will share the same view and sometimes whilst having a Joint Expert you may need to employ your own ‘shadow expert’ to assist in understanding and scrutinising the Joint Expert’s opinion.

We have experts at hand to assist clients with their particular requirements and we can guide you through which experts should be used. The use of experts should not be underestimated as they will allow parties to make informed decisions going forward.

Anthony Jones is Head of Family Law and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist. For more information or a second opinion, please contact him on 01457 761320 or email anthony@odonnellsolicitors.co.uk