Modern Family Matters

How to Identify and Retain Necessary Experts for Your High Asset Divorce

September 29, 2023 with Pacific Cascade Legal Season 1 Episode 111
Modern Family Matters
How to Identify and Retain Necessary Experts for Your High Asset Divorce
Show Notes Transcript

Join us as we sit down with Lead Paralegal, Lisa Parsons, to discuss the importance of having a strong team of experts on your team when navigating a high asset divorce, and the types of experts you might consider retaining. In this interview, Lisa covers the following:

  • Why it may be necessary to retain expert witnesses.
  • Types of experts you might need to retain, such as CPAs, appraisers, evaluators, and investigators.
  • The value of having additional support when you’re navigating a high-asset divorce.
  • How your legal team can help you get connected with the experts you need.

If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys, please call our office at (503) 227-0200, or visit our website at https://www.pacificcascadelegal.com.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this communication is intended to provide legal advice nor does it constitute a client-attorney relationship, therefore you should not interpret the contents as such.

Intro:
Welcome to Modern Family Matters, a podcast devoted to exploring family law topics that matter most to you. Covering a wide range of legal, personal, and family law matters, with expert analysis from skilled attorneys and professional guests, we hope that our podcast provides answers, clarity, and guidance towards a better tomorrow for you and your family. Here's your host, Steve Altishin.

Steve Altishin  
Welcome, everyone. I'm Steve Altishin, Director of Client Partnerships at Pacific Cascade Legal, and today we have our lead paralegal, Lisa Parsons, to talk about how to identify and retain necessary experts for your high asset divorce case. Lisa, how are you doing today?

Lisa Parsons  
I'm good, Steve, how are you?

Steve Altishin  
I'm well. So let's just dive in with the obvious question is, you know, why? Why can it be necessary to have to retain expert witnesses at all?

Lisa Parsons  
So often, especially in more high asset or complex cases, it's necessary to retain experts to assign a value to an asset. So that may be something like a real estate appraiser to provide a market value on property that will then be used later. In the case to discuss property division, it may be a business valuator to determine a value of business, it might be someone to determine the value of personal property, sometimes even need to retain experts to determine what the other party is capable of earning a vocational expert that can provide information on what their employability looks like, and what their typical income range would be in their field of expertise. So often, in these types of cases, we're looking to experts to provide additional information and tools that we'll use in the divorce process.

Steve Altishin  
If they provide these tools, or provide this expertise, where does that go? Do the experts just say, here's the value, there it is, and that's the end of it, the judge will take that, or do expert sometimes have to go to court and testify themselves?

Lisa Parsons  
It depends. With some appraisals, they will be disclosed to the other side, if the other side stipulates to those values, if they say, yes, we agree that this seems accurate. That's as far as it goes. But more often than not, we'll need these experts to appear in court and testify about how they came to the determination that they did in their eventual report that was provided.

Steve Altishin  
Can the parties agree on an expert?

Lisa Parsons  
Not always, not always. So you can independently seek your own appraisal of an asset. And and they can also independently seek their own expert to do an appraisal. And in that instance, you would have both experts come to court and present testimony of how they came to the determination that they did.

Steve Altishin  
Are there some assets that just are more likely to require an expert? And I kind of think, to myself, I'm thinking things like, I don't know, maybe like, your home, your retirement account, you know, maybe if you've got some piece of intellectual property, like a royalty or a copyright? 

Lisa Parsons  
Yes, that's exactly right. So pensions, those often do require an expert's involvement, real property more often than not does, I'd say, you know, the rare circumstances that they don't is if there's an agreement about listing it for sale and how that process would go, because you're deferring to a different expert that's going to help you to sell that asset. When business when businesses are involved that have assets, those are often a common thing that have to be valued.

Steve Altishin  
This is kind of a dumb question, but does an expert have to be qualified? I mean, are there standards that are out there for experts? Or can it just, it can be someone maybe who just has been in a business of selling it for a long time? And it kind of reminds me of this the realtor versus the real estate appraiser kind of thing. Are there degrees of experts?

Lisa Parsons  
There absolutely are and typically a degree of type of expert you need it varies case by case. So in one situation or one case, it may make sense to have not only a An expert who has been in an industry for 30 years, but also an expert who does hiring in that industry to provide information about, you know, the marketability of that skill, it really depends on the case in the situation on what level of expert you need. Typically, you know, we really want to have you worked with your legal team to discuss and hire those experts, rather than going out and using someone that you maybe know personally or is a good friend of yours, that may create an air bias that can be raised in court, if they're called to testify.

Steve Altishin  
On the other hand, on that one, is it sometimes advisable to get an expert? Not necessarily because something has to be valued and it's going to go to court for the value, as much as here are these things, what does that financially mean? To me, I think about, you know, the difference between an IRA, or 401k, or this college savings account, or that account. Can experts be used just also sort of help the person plan into the future, with whatever they're getting?

Lisa Parsons  
It is really important, especially in these types of cases, that you are working with a CPA or financial advisor that can help you look at the long term or the post divorce, what things will look like for you what type of income, you know, or support you have for yourself. And so we definitely do recommend that not only do you work with experts to assist your case, but individually also work with experts.

Steve Altishin  
Can someone be their own expert? Well, I mean, like if they are, in fact, an expert in something, can they qualify themselves as an expert? Or is that just a bad idea? 

Lisa Parsons  
In general, it's a bad idea in general. You know, that might be helpful for background information to provide to your team. But realistically, that's not going to be as helpful for the case or going to court.

Steve Altishin  
Last question, can experts be helpful in terms of support issues? Because you always think of them as, okay, the car's worth this, house is worth that. But can experts be brought in to help maybe determine someone's ability to make money in the future? Someone's costs, depending on what they've got. Does it ever come into support at all?

Lisa Parsons  
Yes, and no. Sometimes we will have clients reach out to an expert to assist on cost of insurance, post divorce to provide insurance for yourself, and we'll want to have that information. In some circumstances, we'll need to hire somebody to evaluate, like I mentioned a vocational expert that can help provide information about employability, you can in some circumstances, even hire a personal investigator to look into what what's the other party actually earning, if maybe they're not disclosing everything, or they have a different type of employment versus a standard W2 employee.

Steve Altishin  
So an expert could also help find something that the other spouse may be hiding? 

Lisa Parsons  
That's correct. 

Steve Altishin  
That's interesting. So we're about to go. But I do want to ask, what would you say, if someone just tells you, I don't need an expert. Let's just go with that.

Lisa Parsons  
Honestly, it depends on the case. And a lot of circumstances, we might be able to follow with that idea up to a point. But if we are not able to reach an agreement, if we're not able to settle on certain issues, experts will be needed and a case will get prolonged, because of meaning to retain those experts and give them time to do their job. So sometimes it makes more sense to incur the expense upfront and retain them early, as opposed to waiting until the last minute in hopes to avoid that necessity or expense.

Steve Altishin  
And I imagine that the cost of the expert is often very much outweighed by the additional value that the expert can make the property be. 

Lisa Parsons  
Exactly right. 

Steve Altishin  
Well, thank you again for joining us. Very helpful, very important to understand why experts are around and what they're needed for. And you make that very clear. And I imagine that, like you said, high asset complex divorces is where you really don't need to have your feelings, you know, going into trying to evaluate stuff.

Lisa Parsons  
Exactly. Thanks for having me, Steve. 

Steve Altishin  
You bet. And thank you, everyone, for joining us today. If anyone else has further questions, feel free to contact our firm we can get you connected with someone who can help. Stay safe, stay happy and be well.

Outro:
This has been Modern Family Matters, a legal podcast focusing on providing real answers and direction for individuals and families. Our podcast is sponsored by Pacific Cascade Legal, serving families in Oregon and Washington. If you are in need of legal counsel or have additional questions about a family law matter important to you, please visit our websites at pacificcascadelegal.com or pacificcascadefamilylaw.com. You can also call our headquarters at (503) 227-0200 to schedule a case evaluation with one of our seasoned attorneys. Modern Family Matters, advocating for your better tomorrow and offering legal solutions important to the modern family.