Expert Fee Awards
Expert fee awards are a court order directing one spouse to pay expert fees. An expert is someone who is qualified to give opinion testimony as opposed to non experts, who can testify as to facts they observed but they cannot give opinions.
In a matrimonial action the most common experts are as follows:
- Custody experts to evaluate the mental health of both parents
- Experts to establish the value of property
Placing value is critical as unless the court has a value assigned to an asset, it cannot properly dispose of that asset in many circumstances. This is especially true when the asset is held by one spouse only and it cannot easily be sold.
In these circumstances, having an expert can increase the value of the marital estate which will be divided under equitable distribution.
Expert fee awards are designed to make sure that the spouse who has less resources can obtain the necessary expert and is not waiving his or her share of marital assets due to a lack of funds in having them valued.