How I Assist Divorcing Spouses and Their Attorneys in Spousal Support Determinations
If the issue of spousal support is critical in your divorce, you need an independent vocational expert to assess matters such as employability, market factors, and other conditions in order for a fair award assessment to be made. While attorneys advocate on behalf of their clients, they cannot testify to these matters – they need an independent expert to support their client’s case and position. I help in this regard.
The Work-at-Home Spouse
The work-at-home spouse has often put his or her career on hold, sometimes for decades, in order to help put the breadwinner spouse through school, doing all of the household chores, raising and taking care of the kids, and generally managing the household so that the breadwinner spouse can focus on one thing – doing their job at work. Work-at-home spouses do not get paid for managing the household, and, at the same time their career opportunities can be significantly limited even if they want to rejoin the workforce at some point.
I help attorneys for work-at-home spouses get an accurate picture of their employability, workplace options, and other factors so that judges can understand the full picture when considering spousal support awards.
The Family Breadwinner/Spouse
Often the family breadwinner will have spent years at a difficult and stressful job supporting their spouse and family, particularly in the case where their spouse is not working outsider of the home (which puts increased pressure on the breadwinner financially). Now that a divorce is occurring, it may be time for the stay-at-home spouse to re-join the workforce. While some support may be necessary (particularly if a spouse has not worked in many years), usually the “fair” thing is for that spouse to begin working and supporting themself as soon as possible.
Understanding the Evidence at Trial for Spousal Support Matters
At your trial, evidence must be presented, like vocational expert testimony, so that a judge can make a fair spousal support decision. Testimony often includes applying facts and circumstances, such as the number of years you have been married, the cost of living, and the current market conditions, to economic and other realities, such as a spouse’s age and education.
As a Testifying Vocational Expert, I Can Help You
As a vocational expert with a Ph.D. (the highest level of expertise), I can testify about the employment prospects available to a spouse re-entering the workforce based upon their education and the current employment outlook where they live.
How Does the Process Work?
The evaluation process begins by having your attorney retain me, and furnishing me with all relevant background information for review. This information usually includes the medical/psychological documentation relating to your or your ex spouse’s ability to engage in the physical, mental, or social aspects of work. It can additionally include tax filings, personnel files, educational documents, and other relevant information.
I typically will want to interview you or your ex spouse. Prior to the interview, I may send individual questionnaires to be completed and returned. The questionnaires cover such topics as current and former work history, and educational background. After a review of all documentation and information, the interview takes place. The interview is followed by a discussion with the attorney, who may request a report and/or testimony at a deposition and/or trial.
Why You Need a Vocational Expert – What I Do
As part of my engagement, I typically will:
- Evaluate the current and future employability of a supported/supporting spouse.
- Estimate a realistic length of time for a supported or supporting spouse to find work in the current labor market.
- Assess efforts of a supported/supporting spouse to seek employment, build a business or explore career options.
- Assess the influence of a spouse’s education, work related skills, transferability to new or alternative work.
- Determine the costs and duration of education and/or training for self identified/ realistic education and training for future career options.
- Ascertain the effect of age, physical or emotional health along with work life expectancy.
- Identify potential costs related to child care resulting in a spouse’s returning to work.
- Compare actual earnings with earning capacity of a supported/supporting spouse.
- Establish a supporting spouse’s earning capacity and ability to support or not to meet support demands.
- Consider changes in circumstances of either spouse’s wage earning capacity and employability.
- The job seeking spouse’s willingness and ability to interview for employment.