Using a Vocational Expert in a Request for Modified Spousal or Child Support

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Increasingly, vocational experts are being used in divorce cases to help establish alimony and child support. Just as a vocational expert can be useful during the divorce proceeding, he can also be of assistance after the divorce is final. If one or both spouses are seeking a modification to a support award due to a change of circumstances, a vocational expert can be used to help.

In most states, a supporting party may request modification of support when there has been a material change in circumstances. A change in circumstances can include job loss, retirement, health issues, or the passing of reasonable period of time for the supported spouse to become self-supporting. A vocational expert can update an earlier employability assessment or to address a different specific income-related issue.

A vocational expert can testify regarding a spouse’s past education, past work experience, present training, and present job expectations. A court can then use this information to determine whether there have been changed circumstances affecting the spouse’s financial condition.

In one case, a former husband sought to modify the support he was giving his former wife. He wanted the award decreased because the wife had just obtained her legal degree and license. A court imputed income to her, effective right away. This opinion was reversed by an appellate court. A vocation expert was able to show that despite her increased education, she still needed a reasonable period of time to find legal employment before a support modification went into effect.  The court agreed, stating that after a reasonable period of time, the burden would shift to the former wife to show that she is unemployed or underemployed as a result of a number of factors unrelated to her own efforts to secure employment. If she was still unemployed at that point, a vocation expert would again be useful to present labor market research about the legal field and the difficulties in finding a legal job.

Edmond Provder, a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, has over forty years of experience providing vocational evaluations. Mr. Provder is the owner of Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS), one of the top companies providing vocational expert services in the United States.  He has authored two of the leading articles on the evaluation of spouses in Matrimonial cases.  Contact OAS at 800-292-1919 to discuss how the vocational experts at OAS can assist you in your Matrimonial case.