Vocational experts are used in marital dissolution cases. Below are some of the various scenarios where a vocation evaluation is crucial to assessing an individual’s ability to work.
Disabled Spouse: Just because an individual has a medical or psychological disability does not automatically preclude him/her from being competitively employed. When a spouse states that a disability prevents him/her from working, an employability and earning capacity evaluation is conducted. This evaluation will include a document review of the foundational medical professional opinions, a vocational diagnostic interview, vocational testing, analysis of transferable skills, and research regarding what the person can earn in the competitive local labor market. This earning capacity assessment can be used by a judge to impute their income for alimony or child support purposes.
Unemployed Spouse -- A spouse who may:
- Never have worked
- Never had a home-based enterprise
- Not have worked in several years
A vocational assessment takes into account previous education, transferrable skills, past employment, and vocational capacity in order to determine their ability to enter or return to the labor market. This earning capacity assessment can be used by a judge to impute their income for alimony or child support purposes.
Underemployed Spouse: Due to outside circumstances such as layoffs or downsizing, a spouse may find themselves earning below their potential despite their past work experience, education and/or training. There also exist situations when a spouse intentionally makes choices that significantly reduce income such as leaving a well-paying position for one with reduced responsibilities and pay. In any case, their past employment, education and/or training can be assessed to determine their earning potential in their local labor market. This earning capacity assessment can be used by a judge to impute income for alimony or child support purposes.
Matrimonial Clients with a Disabled Infant or Child: When a divorcing couple has a disabled infant or child, a Life Care Plan and a future earning capacity assessment can be conducted to determine the lifetime costs of the child’s disability. The Life Care Plan is designed to calculate current and future needs and associated costs. These damages calculations can assist the court in adjudicating this critical component of a divorce settlement.
Post-Divorce Reopener/Change of Financial Circumstance: There are times when a divorce case is re-opened owing to a party’s claim that his/her ability to pay alimony or child support has been affected due to a negative change in circumstance (e.g. job loss, change to a lower-paying position, injury or relocation). On the other hand, there exist cases when a party claims that a re-assessment of a former spouse is necessary owing to a positive change in financial circumstances such as the retention of a higher-paying position or more lucrative career path. In both scenarios, a vocational assessment based on education, training, skills and local labor market research, is critical.