The income of the parties can be a vital issue in a divorce or family law matter involving spousal maintenance or child support. To determine spousal maintenance or child support awards, the laws in each state can vary significantly. However, a critical factor is most states is the income of the parties.
In some cases, one party might allege that the other party could: (a) find a job, if they are unemployed, if they put forth good faith efforts at finding employment; or (b) find a better paying job, if they have one already, if they attempted to do so. If a court believes that a party who is unemployed could become employed if they tried, or that a party is underemployed, a court can impute income to that party for purposes of calculating child support and/or maintenance.
However, without the testimony of a vocational expert, or other credible evidence, imputation is tough to justify. A court cannot just speculate or guess as to the income a party could make. That’s where a vocational examination can be useful. A vocational expert can ensure that there is a basis to impute.
As experts in the employment field, a vocational expert can look at the job market and testify to what a given field is paying from a high-end, low-end and in the middle. A vocational expert, in many instances, will also contact potential employers to see if an employer would be interested in hiring a party based on their qualifications. If potential employers indicate an interest, this is denoted as a positive lead. A vocational expert might then put forth a range of potential pay based on positive job leads available in the market.
This is why the testimony of a vocational expert can often be important in many child support and spousal maintenance cases. This can be especially true in cases where one party has the education and skills to become gainfully employed, but for whatever reason they are not employed at a wage commensurate with their skills, education and abilities.
If you are going through a child support or spousal support matter and need help, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. You can call at 314-963-4700 or contact us at St. Louis Support Attorneys in Missouri and Illinois.