– from Michelle N. in Shorewood, WI

Question Details:

I am just beginning a divorce. My husband owns, and has partnerships in, several real estate companies. I am a homemaker. I have looked over his statements and have come up with a fair value for our marital estate, but he says he will bring in “expert” testimony that will show that my estimates are too high. What is the true value of expert testimony when the records plainly show income and worth?

Family Law Attorney Response:

This is a very good divorce question, but it cannot be answered definitively without further detail.

Expert testimony most likely means testimony from a certified accountant. This accountant will introduce variables such as future income taxes, minority partnerships, and fluctuations in the real estate market, or, market trends. Without contradictory testimony from an expert source it may be difficult to prove your estimates unless you have an accounting background. Even then, you would need testimony from an outside, independent source.

This is demonstrated in the case of Liddle v. Liddle 140 Wis. 2d 132, 410 N.W.2d 196 (Ct. App. 1987). The wife appealed the courts decision on similar merits. However, the court of appeals affirmed the decision based on a lack of contradictory testimony.

This is only an example, however. My advice is to seek legal counsel immediately before proceeding.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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