Earning capacity of a spouse is often a key issue in divorces where child or spousal support is sought. Earning capacity generally means what a spouse can realistically be expected to earn. Sometimes the earning capacity of both spouses may need to be determined, for example, when one spouse hasn’t worked in many years and the other spouse is under-employed. Perhaps one spouse is self-employed and the other spouse believes the self-employed spouse could increase earnings by working for an employer.
Anytime there is a significant disparity between what a spouse is earning and what the spouse could realistically be expected to earn, an evaluation by a vocation expert can be a valuable divorce resource.
So what can you expect if you or your spouse is undergoing a vocational evaluation in your divorce? Most vocational experts begin their evaluation process with an interview of the spouse to determine their background, health, interests, skills, and goals. A detailed job history will be taken, with attention to categorizing each job, job responsibilities, duration of job, hours worked, compensation, and any special recognition and/or promotions received. A vocational evaluator will also determine the sources of other income the family is receiving, family obligations and any volunteer work performed by the spouse, past or present. Sometimes, with the permission of the spouse being evaluated, other persons knowledgeable about the spouse may be asked to provide further information.
The spouse may also be asked before the interview to provide the vocational evaluator with employment related documents, including income tax returns and the results of any employment related testing. Copies of job evaluations may be requested, as well as any medical or psychological information relevant to employment issues. The spouse may be asked to take various aptitude and achievement tests and to complete interest inventories. The different types of testing will help the vocational evaluator better understand the interests of the spouse and the suitability of specific occupations as a good match for the spouse.
Though the services of a vocational expert can be costly, a thorough vocational evaluation by a well-respected vocational evaluator can escalate an early settlement of this issue in the divorce and sharply reduce litigations costs as a result. Your experienced family lawyer is familiar with well-respected vocational evaluators in the Tampa Bay area and can advise you regarding the pros and cons of utilizing the services of a vocational expert in your divorce.