The world of divorce law is an incredibly challenging area. That is because you are dealing with intense emotions, lost hopes, children seeing their parents fight, and often complicated finances.
There are many divorce cases that may go relatively smoothly if the separating spouses are able to remain calm, with a mature understanding of what needs to be done. However, there are also many cases in which one or both spouses do not comport themselves in a way that fosters the appropriate resolution of differences. In fact, many times spouses will take their ongoing problems during the marriage and simply carry them over into the divorce proceeding for the court to see.
One area in which spouses will try to do the most mischief is with, as you would expect, money. The question of spousal support, alimony, can be a particularly contentious area, and when one spouse earns more income than the other, there an obvious motivation on the part of the lower-earning spouse to maximize his or her alimony support.
In this article, we are going to discuss a very helpful tool you can use to avoid the inevitable battle over the question of alimony – a vocational evaluation for your divorce case. We will discuss how a vocational evaluation may be the key to achieve fairness in the support calculation.
If, after reviewing this article you have additional questions about vocational evaluations for your divorce case, then we invite you to contact us at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. – OAS.
We are one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.
The Problem: A Court’s Misunderstanding of a Spouse’s Earning Capacity
Divorce is a tricky area for courts. Why? Because you are taking an intimate relationship that has perhaps existed for decades – full of memories, both good and bad – and you are trying to boil it down into a relatively short legal pleading.
You also have the divorcing spouses, often not familiar with the legal system, who have the instinct to pour all of their very specific, deeply held resentments about the other spouse into a case that is looking to filter out details and not deal with more.
That is a recipe for a possibly skewed account of the marriage, or the court is left with certain events or problems having an outsized emphasis relative to other marriage issues. Not surprisingly, the question of earning capacity could be a part of what gets confused in the mix.
Given all of the filtering of facts that needs to occur, it is frequent that a spouse will make an application to the court asserting that he or she requires significant alimony.
There are cases, however, where a spouse will remain unemployed or underemployed in order to maximize alimony payments. In addition, many times the stay-at-home parent, who may have a master’s degree, will seek to remain “stay-at-home” even though the children have gone off to college.
While alimony has the laudable purpose of making sure that a divorce does not leave one spouse destitute and unable to support himself or herself, it can be manipulated towards less-than-noble goals.
The Solution: A Vocational Evaluation for Divorce
The key to solving the problem of a court being unable to appreciate whether a spouse truly has no earning capacity, or is simply gaming the system, is a vocation expert.
What is a vocational expert? A vocational expert is trained to figure out a person’s ability to earn an income through a rigorous evaluation of the person’s education, job skills, and work history, as well as an evaluation of the job market in a given region.
A vocational evaluation, then, is the process by which the vocational expert will go through the process of determining a person’s earning capacity. It is a very effective way of sussing out whether the higher-earning spouse is intentionally reducing his or her income – by quitting a high-paying job, for example – to keep alimony obligations low; or whether the lower-earning spouse has a much greater earning potential then he or she has pursued in the past.
Added Benefit: Court’s Typically Rely on Vocational Evaluations in Divorce Cases
A family court judge is not required to follow the opinion of a vocational expert in a divorce case. But, a vocational evaluation is highly persuasive because it is a more objective look (from someone outside the marriage) of a spouse’s situation. Plus, if a spouse disagrees with the vocational expert’s opinion, then he or she can produce evidence to refute the findings, which typically leads to better information with which the judge can make a decision.
In short, if you are the higher-earning spouse, you would do well to hire a vocational expert. The added expense of getting the expert will ultimately save you a great deal of money through lower alimony payments.
OAS Will Provide You With a Vocational Expert for your Next Case
The vocational experts at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS) have over forty years of experience providing vocational services for attorneys and documenting the income potential and employment capacity of underemployed, unemployed, and disabled spouses in many types of cases
OAS specializes in working with the plaintiff or defense attorney to assist in objectively documenting the economics in a case, and in acting as a vocational expert at SSDI hearings. From the initial referral to the trial testimony, OAS works with the retaining attorney so that the vocational assessment of the case can be objectively and efficiently presented.
We strongly believe in the importance of a clear and understandable presentation of the facts. OAS is the leading provider of Vocational Expert and Life Care Planning Services for Plaintiff and Defense attorneys.
The company specializes in assisting attorneys in evaluating earning capacity in divorce cases and documenting the damages in cases where an individual has been severely injured by providing objective findings on how the injuries affect a persons’ ability to work and earn money, as well as the cost of care required in catastrophic injuries.
OAS is your Vocational Expert & Life Care Planner Nationwide, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nevada, and California.
Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. is one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.