Although a vocational evaluation may sound like a concept solely concerned with job placement, it is actually a form of expert opinion that can greatly benefit your Florida divorce. Specifically, a vocational evaluation can help increase the amount of alimony a spouse receives.
What Is a Vocational Evaluation?
A vocational evaluation relies on an expert who understands the nuances and specifics of the labor market. This experience is used to provide an evaluation that determines a spouse’s ability to find employment and that spouse’s short and long-term earning capacity.
Factors that affect a vocational expert’s assessment of a Florida spouse’s earning potential include:
- Work history
- Jobs available locally
- Job skills and credentials
- Historical earnings
Importantly, a vocational expert also takes external economic factors into account, such as whether the economy is booming or has slowed. If you are reluctant to rely on a vocational expert as another professional in your divorce, such a sentiment is certainly understandable. However, for many Florida divorces, such a choice is certainly inadvisable.
How a Vocational Expert’s Opinion Can Help Florida Spouses in Divorce
Any spouse who plans on seeking alimony should certainly discuss a potential vocational evaluation with a Florida family lawyer. The reason for this recommendation is based on the fact that a spouse’s potential earning capability has a direct connection with the amount of alimony a Florida family court may award.
This connection is grounded upon Section 61.08 of The 2018 Florida Statutes, which just so happens to be Florida’s alimony law. This statute explicitly spells out that a Florida court may award alimony to a spouse if there is an actual need for alimony that can be supported by a factual inquiry. In other words, facts and evidence must be shown that support alimony is necessary.
Florida spouses who are unemployed may naturally assume that they have no earning capacity based on Florida law, but this is actually not the case. Florida law operates on the fundamental assumption that all persons can work to provide for their own needs, and it is also assumed that all persons ought to do so. Therefore, spouses who make the active choice to not work will still be imputed an amount that can be earned even if you are not currently employed.
As such, a vocational expert can be an essential professional for your divorce for a number of reasons, including:
- Needing a second opinion since your spouse has already retained a vocational expert or a court-ordered vocational evaluation will be made
- The need for an evaluation because of a change in life circumstances that affects earning capacity, such as a serious illness
- The ability to rebut a spouse’s assertion that you could earn far more than is realistically possible, which could aid coming to an amicable alimony agreement outside of court
Is a Vocational Evaluation Difficult?
No, and far from it, in fact. An evaluation is actually just an interview conducted by an expert who will ask you to answer a number of questions that are relevant for arriving at an informed opinion concerning a spouse’s earning capability. Further, assessments may be given to determine your job qualifications and interests, which can be helpful for imputing an earnings amount for spouses who are not currently working.
As always, your Florida family lawyer will prepare you for the evaluation to ensure you are ready for the evaluation. If you have any questions about vocational evaluations and whether they may prove helpful for your Florida divorce, contact us online for a free case evaluation with a Tampa alimony lawyer today.
If you have questions for a Tampa divorce lawyer, or are unaware of the terms and conditions of a Tampa divorce, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected]