In determining spousal support, both payor and payee are entitled to have spousal support calculated based on what each party COULD earn (considering their skills and training and work history), as opposed to what they actually earn.
It is not uncommon, both in divorce litigation and during divorce mediations, for the parties in a spousal support negotiation to have concerns that either the payee or the payor is not earning as much income as they are capable of earning, e.g., because of career choices, failure to work a full-time schedule, etc.
In dissolution proceedings, to investigate these concerns a court may order a party to submit to an examination by a vocational training counselor. Fam C §4331(a).
A “vocational training counselor” is an individual with sufficient knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education in interviewing, administering and interpreting tests for analysis of marketable skills, formulating career goals, planning courses of training and study, and assessing the job market. Fam C §4331(d).
A Vocational Expert is commonly used in Divorce Litigation to obtain an opinion about a party’s current ability and opportunity to earn. They can also be very helpful during mediations when used in a cooperative fashion by spouses to address a spouse’s concerns about the earning ability of the other party.
Divorce Helpline routinely works with well-known Vocational Experts in mediations where the clients wish to address the issue of Earning Ability.
Future blogs will address using a Vocational Expert to lay out a roadmap showing a supported spouse how to comply with their obligations to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time (their “Gavron” obligation).