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Vocational Evaluations / Job Search Orders

Quite often the court must determine what a party is capable of earning if they are unemployed for some reason. In the case of child support the issue is often are they really contributing the amount they should be for the benefit of the children. In the spousal support context the issue is often is the former "stay at home spouse" capable of earning something and thereby reducing the need for support.

The most common method of doing so is the "Vocational Evaluation", an evaluation done by an expert who interviews and tests for job skills. This person is then called upon to either render a report which is read by the court, or, called to testify regarding their findings.

These evaluations can be costly and time consuming, and the court has discretion regarding whether to allow them and who will pay the cost. There are also many evaluators available, and each has their own approach and pricing schedule, and these are all areas where an experienced attorney is crucial. Which approach is best for you? Which approach suits the judge to whom the evaluation will be given? Who will pay the cost? Is it better to pay the cost yourself or to ask the court to make the other party pay all or part of it? Should you agree the report can be admitted into evidence? Or, should you demand that the evaluator has to come and testify?

These questions must all be evaluated, and our office has extensive experience in each area. We have conducted literally hundreds of hearings involving vocational evaluators, and have examined hundreds of evaluators on the witness stand.

An alternative to an evaluation is a request for a "job search order." This is simply an order that requires a non-employed spouse to apply for 5 jobs a week. The advantage of a job search order is it costs nothing other than the fee to make the request, and the results are incontrovertible. The person is either making a good faith effort to find work or they’re not, and if they get a job, there is no dispute about what they’re earning. The disadvantage is a person may become intentionally underemployed to keep their support high. It’s often difficult to prove they’re doing that absent an expert.

The Law Offices of Michael J. Smith are located directly
across the street from the Ventura County Court House
789 S. Victoria Avenue
Suite 208
Ventura, CA 93003

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