Do You Need an Employability Expert?
The starting point for a support discussion in any divorce case is the gathering of each spouse’s respective employment information and salaries, along with their employment and educational backgrounds. This information helps to set each spouse’s expectations about child support and alimony payments. It should be used to further any discussions about keeping or selling a home, relocating, and what each spouse’s respective lifestyles will look like post-divorce. Of course, the goal is to maintain the marital lifestyle, but this can be hindered by the necessity of maintaining separate households and a limited stream of income.
What if you believe that your spouse should be earning more? Perhaps your spouse is underemployed or unemployed, and if so, what salary should be imputed to your spouse? And, more importantly, how do you engage in meaningful discussions about support when respective incomes cannot be agreed upon?
N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 Alimony, maintenance.
b. In all actions brought for divorce, dissolution of a civil union, divorce from bed and board, legal separation from a partner in a civil union couple or nullity the court may award one or more of the following types of alimony: open durational alimony; rehabilitative alimony; limited duration alimony or reimbursement alimony to either party. In so doing the court shall consider, but not be limited to, the following factors:
(1) The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
(2) The duration of the marriage or civil union;
(3) The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
(4) The standard of living established in the marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other;
(5) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
(6) The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
(7) The parental responsibilities for the children;
(8) The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
(9) The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
(10) The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;
(11) The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
(12) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment;
(13) The nature, amount, and length of pendente lite support paid, if any; and
(14) Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
As you can imagine, it is very difficult to negotiate a settlement or persuade a court of your belief without being able to present sound and convincing documentation supporting this proposition. It is this exact situation that requires you to consider whether you should hire an employability expert. An expert will interview your spouse over the telephone with the sole purpose of acquiring a work history and educational history. This information, in conjunction with wage statistics and a job search, will allow the expert to render an opinion about your spouse’s potential earnings.
Do you have questions about income imputation? Let’s discuss your matter during a confidential consultation. Please call 908-946-8227 and ask for Stefanie Gagliardi or contact me at Stefanie@gmnj-legal.com.