Vocational Experts in Divorce
By: Brusca Law
What is a Vocational Expert?
During your initial consultation with your attorney, you hear the phrase “vocational expert”, among many others, and you scour the internet to further understand this expert’s role in your divorce. A vocational expert is typically hired by a party going through a divorce where their spouse is alleging they are unable to earn what they earned during the marriage. A vocational expert testifies in Court as to the earning capacity of a spouse, based on their skills, work history, education and training, and available jobs in the area. The vocational expert’s job is to provide the Court with an unbiased opinion as to what your spouse could be earning or should be earning depending on the facts in your case.
How Do You Hire the Vocational Expert?
Typically, your attorney will know of a few good experts that they have interacted with in the past, and they will make recommendations to you. The attorney will put you in touch with the expert, and the expert will send you a contract to review and sign. You will then “retain” your expert by paying them a fee, and the expert will typically bill against that initial fee. The expert will keep records as to the time spent on your case, and will provide you and your attorney with updates as needed.
How Does the Vocational Expert Reach a Conclusion?
The vocational expert has their own individual methodologies in arriving at a conclusion. They will interview both spouses (separately of course) to learn more about the type of work the spouse did during the marriage. The expert may request a CV or Resume to review before the initial interview, and have your spouse complete a thorough questionnaire. There are other tests that the vocational expert will perform depending on the type of job, and industry standards, and the expert will reduce their findings into a report. The report is typically provided to the attorney who hired the expert to review first, before finalizing the report for the Court. You will want to review this report with your attorney before it becomes final and provide input to your attorney as to your opinion of the report.
Should I Hire a Vocational Expert?
In cases involving alimony, and child support as well, a spouse may intentionally try and reduce their income to keep their financial obligations low. You typically see situations where a spouse had a high paying job making six figures, and then during the family law case or divorce, the spouse mysteriously loses his or her job. If the vocational expert finds that the spouse could be making more, the Court can then do what is called “imputation” and add income to the spouse’s gross income for purposes of calculating alimony and or child support.
If you do not have the funds to hire a vocational expert, then you may have to settle for a lesser amount of alimony or child support. If you are able to borrow the monies from family or friends, this might be a good investment for you if you are fighting a difficult alimony or child support battle in Court. Courts tend to heavily rely on a vocational expert’s opinion rather than the opinions of co-works, family or friends, and you most likely will not be able to meet your burden without this type of expert.
Speak with an attorney regarding your options during a divorce or a child support modification case to learn more about your rights and options. Brusca Law is here to help answer any questions you might have regarding vocational experts and we offer free consultations by appointment only. Call Brusca Law at 407-501-6564 to schedule your free consultation today.