You have a Maryland divorce case. The issues may include child custody, alimony, or the division of assets. Perhaps your case requires a child custody evaluator, a business valuation expert or another expert.
The technical aspects of your case just became a great deal more difficult. Now you are going to need a highly experienced Maryland divorce attorney, who understands the new and evolving laws that affect your divorce.
Changes To The Standard For Determining Admissibility Of Expert Witness Testimony
Especially over the past several decades, the introduction of expert testimony can be a pivotal issue in a complex family law cases. There are cases where you want to keep an expert’s opinion in evidence, and of course, there are cases where you want to keep an expert’s opinion out of evidence. Maryland just adopted a different standard for determining the admissibility of expert witness testimony in family law cases.
This new standard, named after a Federal case known as “Daubert,” makes the family law judge the gatekeeper to keep out unreliable expert testimony. The adoption of this new review standard was intended to prohibit “opinion” testimony and to ensure only reliable expert opinions are admitted into evidence.
Family law practitioners seeking expert opinion must be prepared to show that:
- The testimony is based on sufficient facts/data;
- Reliable principles and methods were used; and
- Those principles/methods have been applied reliably to the case
Criteria For Evaluating Admissibility
There are five (5) criteria for evaluating the admissibility of an expert’s methodology under the three (3) prongs of Daubert:
(i) if it can be tested, has it been tested?;
(ii) has it been subjected to peer review and/or publication?;
(iii) if error rates can be determined, have they been determined?;
(iv) if there are standards controlling the technique’s operation, have they been maintained?; and
(v) is the methodology generally accepted as reliable within the relevant scientific community?
An expert’s testimony is considered unreliable and inadmissible when the testimony is not the product of reliable principles and methods based on the foregoing criteria. For example, an expert business valuation expert has to rely upon sufficient facts or data (such as financial records of a business) for his/her testimony to be admissible. If the expert reached his/her conclusions solely on his/her own experience and training but has not applied reliable principles and methods, those opinions will not be admissible.
The Daubert reliability test requires reliable methodology. For example, psychological evaluations will likely not require a strict Daubert analysis, but rather a more flexible approach. Where a psychologist relies on regular and customary methodology utilized by mental-health professionals, the Daubert test may likely be satisfied, even if the customary methods are not “scientific”.
Reach Out To An Experienced Maryland Family Law Attorney
This is going to be a major fight in the Maryland family law courts, and family law clients are going to need the highest level of experienced family law attorneys to represent them in these cases.
The experienced family law attorneys at SIEGELLAW will be at the forefront of the development of this major change to Maryland divorce law. If you have a family law case that may involve the use, or the attempted disqualification, of an expert witness, you will need an experienced Maryland family law attorney. Give SIEGELLAW a call at (410) 792-2300 or request a consultation online today.