Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

If My Spouse is Not Working to Their True Ability, How Does That Affect New Jersey Alimony and Child Support?

As a New Jersey divorce attorney with vast experience, I grapple with this issue on nearly a daily basis.  New Jersey child support and alimony can be so complex that we may require an expert’s impute.  Let’s explore how a vocational expert can save you money in a New Jersey divorce. 

A few months ago, I had a client come to me with a dilemma. He was the breadwinner of the family—graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelors degree and after working years in construction, became the owner of a prestige construction company. My client’s wife was not an uneducated person by any means as well. She had graduated from Rutgers as well and was a licensed real estate broker in New Jersey. However, once the couple had children, they decided it would be best for mom. to stay at home and care for the house and kids as her primary job. Important to note, this was a mutual decision; my client’s wife agreed to give up her job position to stay at home with the children, she was not forced into it.  

Years went by and of course, the children got older. Two of their kids were in high school and one had just went off to college. Despite all of this, my client’s wife was still staying at home and had no intention of going back to work. Here’s where I came in. She told my client that she wanted a divorce and permanent alimony. She felt that permanent alimony should be awarded to her so that she could maintain the same lifestyle she enjoyed throughout the marriage. The problem was, though, that my client’s business was down almost 40% since the housing market was still not the greatest. He came to me with this dilemma asking for my advice. Naturally, I assured him not to panic because I intended to motion the court for a vocational evaluation, this way we could prove that the wife was capable of earning a living and would have to seek employment.

A psychologist typically conducts a vocational evaluation. He or she will ask the person being evaluated a series of questions to determine employability in the current economy. Some typical questions include the level of education the person has completed, if he or she has ever had a job before, and if so what industry that job was in. By motioning the court for a vocational evaluation to be conducted, I was able to have my client’s alimony obligations significantly reduced from what his wife was asking for. Since the psychologist found that she had a college degree and an active real estate license, she was fully capable of earning a salary. Even though the housing market was still down and her salary might be less than what she had earned in the past, the vocational evaluation revealed that she was employable at some salary and therefore had to reenter the workforce.

Often, the vocational expert will also utilize the State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce web site in order to ascertain the average and/or medium salary for thousands of careers and job titles. 

If you are in a similar situation and would like to discuss the possibility of having a vocational evaluation conducted, please contact my office today. Thank you.