Establishing Spousal Earning Capacity in Divorce Cases with a Vocational Expert

May 1st, 2017
establishing spousal earning capacity in divorce cases

Employability Experts are being increasingly used by Matrimonial attorneys to evaluate an unemployed spouse’s earning capacity. A vocational expert’s testimony can be used to lower alimony payments.

A recent case involved a 37-year-old woman with a Master’s Degree in Education and state certification in teaching and school administration who quit her job as a teacher at the time of filing for divorce.

The Vocational expert conducted an in-person evaluation of the woman to determine her education, past work experience, previously learned skills, and medical limitations (if any). In addition, the expert administered a battery of vocational aptitude tests to assess the spouse’s achievement levels, skills, and aptitudes. The vocational expert performed a transferability of skills evaluation and determined the wide range of occupations the spouse could perform. Based on this data, the vocational expert was able to make a determination as to her earning capacity in the local labor market.

In addition, the OAS Vocational Expert was able to determine that there were numerous jobs available in her geographical area and what these open jobs paid. The salaries for the open jobs were compared to the average earnings for the jobs in the spouse’s geographical area as reported by federal and state government wage surveys, as well as the average wages for females with a Master’s Degree level education.

The objective OAS Vocational Report was instrumental in settling the case prior to trial.

OAS was involved in a highly publicized case reported in the New York Post which involved an individual with many years of experience in the entertainment industry who resigned from his $2 million per year job in Broadcast Television at the time of his divorce to take a $300,000 per year job in Cable Television. The Vocational Expert was able to locate open jobs paying equal to his past earnings which was the amount the judge imputed as his income. According to newspaper accounts, he has failed to abide by the judge’s rulings and will be spending the next 20 weekends in jail.

OAS is a Nationwide Vocational Expert service with offices in NJ, NY, FL, TX, CT, GA, & CA. To see how the OAS Vocational Experts can assist you in evaluating a spouse in a divorce case consult www.oasinc.org, or Call 800-292-1919 for professional qualifications, fee schedule, and a sample report, as well as the OAS published article “Using a Vocational Expert in Evaluating Spouses in Divorce Cases.”