More and more, financial advisors are being asked to help settle divorce disputes and, in many cases, asked to serve as expert witnesses.
Last week, Cordell & Cordell Principal Partner Joe Cordell spoke on Phoenix’s Business for Breakfast, broadcast by Money Radio 1510, about a column he recently wrote for Financial Advisor Magazine about the reasons for this trend and the process of choosing an expert witness.
“The fact is, divorce these days involves many more experts and a lot more complexity than it did perhaps 15 to 20 years ago,” Mr. Cordell said, “and so now it’s routine for both sides ‑‑ if they have any disputes regarding the value of real estate or of a business, or even about what the maintenance needs of one party are – now it’s very common to have a CPA expert come in and testify about the reasonable maintenance needs of one of the parties.”
Mr. Cordell added that because financial advisors are familiar with both parties, they’re often called into the divorce process, which can make it difficult to maintain their relationship with the husband and wife.
He also explained that financial advisors will frequently be used as a fact witness rather than an expert witness. A fact witness is someone who can testify about what happened “on the scene” more objectively and lacks the personal connection to the parties that many financial advisors have.
“That’s different from the attorney saying, ‘We need an expert,’” Mr. Cordell said. “Their goal is to choose somebody who is the opposite of that, somebody who has no contact with the parties who the court believes is going to come in simply because their job is to look objectively at the facts and say, ‘Yeah, this is the value of an asset,’ or, ‘This is the party’s financial situation.’”
Listen to the full audio of Mr. Cordell’s interview below: