Under-Employed Spousal Earnings Assessment in Family Law Cases

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Employability Experts are increasingly being used by Matrimonial attorneys to evaluate an under-employed spouse’s earning capacity. A vocational expert’s testimony can be used to lower alimony payments.

The Vocational Expert’s evaluation consists of conducting an in-person evaluation of a spouse to determine their age, education, past work experience, previously learned skills, and medical limitations, if any.

In addition, the expert may administer a battery of vocational tests to assess the spouse’s achievement level, skills, and aptitudes. The vocational expert will perform a transferability of skills evaluation to determine what types of occupations the under-employed spouse can perform.

Based on this data, the vocational expert will determine what jobs, if any, an under-employed spouse can perform, as well as what these jobs pay in the local labor market. The salaries for the open jobs are compared to the average earnings for the jobs in the spouse’s geographical area as reported by federal and state government wage surveys.

A case reported in the New York Post involved an individual working in the entertainment industry for a number of years who, at the time of his divorce, resigned from his $2 million per year job in Broadcast Television to take a $300,000 per year job in Cable Television.

The Vocational Expert was able to locate open jobs for which he was qualified to offer salaries equal to his past earnings that were the amount the judge imputed as his income. According to newspaper accounts, he has failed to abide by the judge’s rulings and will be spending the next 20 weekends in jail.

OAS is a Nationwide Vocational Expert service with offices in NJ, NY, FL, TX, CT, GA and CA. To see how the OAS Vocational Experts can assist you in evaluating a spouse in a divorce case, consult oasinc.org or call 800-292-1919 for our experts’ professional qualifications, fee schedule, and sample report, as well as the OAS, published article “Using a Vocational Expert in Evaluating Spouses in Divorce Cases.”