In divorce, retaining a vocational expert can sometimes be one of the most valuable investments you can make.
If you are facing a divorce and brought in significantly more income than your spouse, or if your spouse has been out of the workforce for an extended period of time, you might want to consider utilizing a vocational expert to help you dodge having to pay an unnecessarily high amount of alimony, maintenance or child support.
These professionals are often used in dissolution cases, legal separation cases and in motions to modify. They can help you build up your cases against the opposing party if your spouse is underemployed or should be employed in a different area than what they are currently working.
For example, if your ex-wife is a stay-at-home mom with a master’s degree but has spent the last several years at home with the kids before they move away to college. Even though she doesn’t currently have a job, she is likely very employable and could be earning a certain amount of money.
A vocational expert is able to impute income to your spouse, which is important on a couple levels.
First, if your spouse is seeking alimony or maintenance and claims to be unable to meet their own needs, a vocational expert can help prove that she is actually capable of making ends meet but choosing not to.
The second area that a vocational expert can be helpful is if child support calculations are a result of gross income. If the expert can impute income on your spouse, you will possibly be able to reduce the amount of support you pay.
Using a battery of tests, a vocational expert conducts an analysis of an individual’s job skills and the transferability of those skills to the current job market.
If you decide to retain a vocational expert, the first thing they are going to want to see is a copy of your former wife’s resume so they can examine her past job history, how long it has been since she was employed and what her salary has been.
Any information you can provide regarding her work history will be helpful. That could include employee files or even tax records to show her salary history from the past few years.
Eventually, the expert will want to meet with the opposing party to get a better idea of what her qualifications are. They might want to run an occupational test to examine where she could be in her career.
Unfortunately, the opposing party doesn’t always cooperate and there is a good chance this meeting will be impossible to arrange. Even if that is the case, a vocational expert can still be useful.
During the deposition of the opposing party, a vocational expert can provide a list of questions to ask that will help them get the information they would try to garner during an interview.
Once that information is gathered, the vocational expert will prepare a report and give the court an idea as to what jobs are out there, what your wife is qualified for and what potential earnings she could be making.
Courts are typically receptive to vocational experts because they are able to understand the economy better than most. They can examine a person’s past work history, what their capabilities and job skills are, and analyze what their employment potential is. Their opinion carries a lot more weight with judges as to whether or not the person can be working or how much she could be making.
If you think a vocational expert might be helpful to your case, talk to your attorney. They should be able to give you a list of recommendations for you to retain, and your attorney will then call the vocational expert and ask for a retention letter. If they can help, it is important to get them involved in your case as quickly as possible.
You will likely have to pay some money upfront for them to do their work, but it can be a good investment that saves you thousands of dollars down the road.