Using a Vocational Expert in Divorce Proceedings: Part One

A vocational expert can be a valuable resource in some divorce cases. If the employability and/or earning capacity of your spouse is an important issue in your divorce, you can ask the court to order a vocational expert to evaluate your spouse and give testimony at your final hearing.

A vocational expert’s evaluation of your spouse gives the court an objective assessment of many facets of the vocational issue presented by your divorce. A vocational expert can evaluate whether your spouse is underemployed and what other better paying jobs your spouse qualifies for based on your spouse’s education, employment history, skills and experience, and overall employability.

The vocational expert can also educate the court about jobs currently available where your spouse resides. They can also educate them on any limitations on your spouse’s ability to be self-supporting and/or benefit from further education or training.  Of particular importance when your spouse is self-employed, a vocational expert can evaluate the value of your spouse’s self-employment or, if you have an unemployed spouse, the vocational expert can assess the credibility of your spouse’s job search efforts.

If a vocational expert is needed in your divorce, selection of the right vocational expert is critically important. Your expert must have excellent credentials to survive your spouse’s attempts to discredit your expert at your final hearing.  Besides your expert’s educational degrees, your expert should be licensed and preferably hold special certification like Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRE) or Certified Vocational Evaluator (CVE). Your expert should be a member of professional organizations and be able to list his or her publications/presentations, as well as cases in which your expert was qualified by the court as a vocational expert and allowed to present expert testimony on vocational issues.

A vocational expert with considerable experience in testifying in divorce proceedings may be expensive, but may also be well worth the professional fees charged.  Your experienced family law attorney is very knowledgeable about vocational experts in the community who are well-respected by family law judges. If you are unrepresented, don’t hesitate to consult with an experienced family law attorney regarding the right vocational expert to hire for your particular case.

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