By Alisse C. Camazine
At the time of separation, it is often necessary for the non-working spouse to go back to work. It is difficult, especially in today’s economy, to determine what someone will be able to earn when they have not worked for years or for that matter how long it will take them to find suitable employment. One way to determine earning potential is to obtain a vocational exam. The purpose of this exam is to explore a person’s earning potential in the marketplace. This evaluation includes finding out what kind of work someone can do and what the opportunities are for this type of work. The evaluator will want to know what the person enjoys, what education, training, experience and interests they have and even what volunteer activities they have done. It is also important to disclose all jobs for which you have applied. The evaluator will then issue an opinion about the type of employment opportunities that exist and what the earning potential is.
Once the results are received that indicate that you or your spouse are able to work, the judge can “impute” income. This means that the court can assume that you or your spouse can earn income and this can be an assumed amount when calculating child or spousal support.
It is important to let the evaluator know if there are physical or emotional health limitations If there are other limitations, it is important for the evaluator to know this too. For example, is there a handicapped child that requires special attention and prevents working normal hours, this is a significant fact to disclose.
Make a list of employment or volunteer work so that the evaluator has accurate information. If the exam is of your spouse, you will be asked to provide information. Make sure that this is an honest assessment.
Finding appropriate employment in today’s job market when someone has been unemployed or underemployed is a challenge. Talk to your attorney about these issues and consider whether or not you should utilized a vocational expert to aid you case.