What To Know About Expert Witness Testimony And Family Law Cases In Texas
In some family law cases, a professional with specialized skills, knowledge, or experience is called up to help the court resolve complicated issues. Known as an expert witness, the testimony provided by these professionals can be especially compelling. Here, our Houston and Galveston family lawyers offer a guide to expert witness testimony in family and divorce cases in Texas.
Expert Witnesses Have Specialized Skills, Knowledge, or Experience
There are three basic categories of witnesses. The first, fact witnesses, actually observed a specific event. They have first-hand knowledge of something that occurred. The second type, character witnesses, have a personal relationship with a key player in a case. The third type, an expert witness, is a trained professional who can provide useful information regarding a complicated matter. In family law cases, expert witnesses may be called upon to testify to:
- A Financial Issue: For a number of different reasons, financial matters can quickly turn complex. An experienced financial expert, such as a forensic accountant, may provide expert witness testimony to put a complicated matter into the proper context.
- A Parental Issue: Parental disputes are also challenging. An expert with special knowledge or experience related to kids, such as a child psychologist, may be called upon to deliver expert witness testimony.
Texas Rules of Evidence: Admissibility of Expert Witness Testimony
Expert witness testimony matters. In a complex family law dispute, the statement of an expert witness can prove to be extraordinarily compelling. It could make or break your case. As expert testimony is often persuasive, Texas has strict rules and regulations in place pertaining to the admissibility of these types of witnesses. Under Texas law (Texas Rules of Evidence § 702-06), an expert can only testify if the following two criteria are satisfied:
- Reliability: Texas is known as a ‘Daubert’ state for expert witness admissibility. Our state’s rules of evidence follow the Daubert standard set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in an early 1990s case. One of the key elements of the Daubert standard is that the expert witness must be reliable. There must be a valid and broadly accepted scientific or methodological approach supporting their position.
- Helpfulness: Beyond being reliable, the proposed testimony by an expert family law witness must also meet the ‘helpfulness’ requirement. The knowledge the expert possesses must directly relate to a material issue in the case. If the statement by the expert witness is not deemed sufficiently relevant to the issues at hand, a court may exclude their testimony.
Contact Our Houston and Galveston Family Law Attorneys for Immediate Help
At Lindamood & Robinson, P.C., our family lawyers are committed to finding solutions for our clients. If you have questions about expert witnesses and family law disputes in Texas, we are more than ready to get started on your case. Contact our legal team today for a confidential consultation with a skilled attorney. We provide family law services throughout Harris and Galveston counties.