I want to talk to you today about the struggle of your divorce and for the issue of alimony/future spousal support. What you don’t know you can cause you years of havoc and regret.
The Courts Determine How Much (if Any) Spousal Support is to be Paid
Spousal support (sometimes also called “maintenance”, and formerly referred to as “alimony”) is an amount that may be awarded by the court for one spouse to pay the other spouse in connection with a divorce. There are many factors that the court may consider, such as the length of the marriage, whether one spouse has sacrificed a career to support the other spouse, and the potential earning capacity of each spouse.
The first thing to understand is that the courts ultimately determine how much is to be paid. In most cases, the “breadwinner” spouse will want to pay as little as possible in support, while the “stay at home” spouse will want/need substantial monetary support.
The courts can make a monetary award based upon facts or fiction. Fiction is when your ex’s attorney suggests the amount based upon furthering the best interests of their client, and without expert testimony.
You Need an Expert to Present the Facts of Your Position
The Facts are what an expert presents at trial based on the reality of your situation. A judge or magistrate will make their decision based upon the information (evidence) put before them. Attorneys cannot testify as to what they believe is the “correct” amount of spousal support; instead, they must introduce evidence. The best evidence comes from experts.
You should know that:
- The court doesn’t hire experts. Attorneys hire experts.
- If you or your attorney don’t hire an expert, the court will either be left without expert direction, or will have only the expert opinion of your ex-spouse if he or she has an expert. Neither situation will be good for you.
- For spousal support considerations, a vocational expert can be hired by your attorney to evaluate the future earning potential of you and your ex, and to write a report detailing their conclusions. Vocational experts carefully evaluate a number of factors that affect future earnings, such as current employment, education, length of time that a spouse may have been out of the workforce, local demand for the skills that a spouse may have, and other factors that affect employability.
- The outcome of a spousal support determination will impact you for years.
- You can either accept what your ex has to offer, what your ex’s attorney thinks you deserve or what an expert can assert and defend in court. If you have been a homemaker and haven’t worked in awhile your future earnings may not be much. If that’s the case, how can you expect to live on such amount?
If you have been the breadwinner, you may want/need your ex to share in their own support more than they care to do.
What Can You Do to Help Your Case?
As a forensic psychologist and vocational expert, I can determine the reality of your situation and offer that testimony in court. I can help you get ready for what might otherwise be a litigation nightmare.
I help clients and the court:
- understand the amount of money that you can earn;
- know how much time you will need to become gainfully employed at a job if you have been out of work for a while;
- Itemize what your children may need for day care.
This report will take the guesswork out of your spousal support determination and help guide the court in making its decision.
Rebuttal of Your Ex-Spouse’s Expert
Not only is an expert critical in advancing your case, the expert is also critical in rebutting the expert of your ex-spouse in situations where such expert is wrong, or failed to take into account significant factors. Without an expert on your side, your attorney will be limited in what he or she can do to counteract the other side’s expert.
Ultimately, courts make decisions based upon the weight of the evidence presented. Make your case the best it can be.