What is Daubert and Why it’s Important to Custody Cases

Daubert refers to a leading case on evidence from the United States Supreme Court and established a standard pertaining to scientific evidence. According to Daubert, the standard used by a trial judge to make a preliminary assessment of whether an expert’s scientific testimony is based on reasoning or methodology that is scientifically valid and can properly be applied to the facts at issue. Under this standard, the factors that may be considered in determining whether the methodology is valid are: (1) whether the theory or technique in question can be and has been tested; (2) whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication; (3) its known or potential error rate; (4) the existence and maintenance of standards controlling its operation; and (5) whether it has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). The Daubert standard is the test currently used in the federal courts and some state courts. Daubert offers the foundation whereby experts must make sure that their testimony is reliable in order to meet the evidence requirements.

In a custody case Daubert is often overlooked as an effective tool for challenging experts. The main type of experts used in family law are those pertaining to custody issues. The court will often need assistance and appoint an expert to give an opinion on what is in the best interests of the child. However, very few attorneys see these experts through the requirement of adequate Daubert analysis. This is where attorneys need to scrutinize the scientific evidence and opinion offered by the custody expert. The attorney should ask such questions as “does the opinion meet the requirements of Daubert?” “Did the expert adhere to adequate scientific standards?” “Is the expert’s opinion reliable?” These questions among others open the possibility for challenging expert opinions, especially those where the recommendation may go against a particular parent. To learn more on how you can challenge the opinion of an expert in a custody case contact our custody experts by emailing us at info@JusticeLegalGroup.com or call us at 505-880-8737.