Examination by a Vocational Training Counselor

Examination by a Vocational Training Counselor

Spouses going through a divorce may encounter a scenario where one spouse is claiming that he or she is unable to find a job and needs spousal support from the working spouse. The spouse being requested to pay spousal support may suspect that the requesting party is able to work, but is skirting his or her responsibility to find employment. Obtaining a Gavron warning order from the court is an important first step. The Gavron warning orders the person without gainful employment to search for work. Failing to comply with the Gavron warning could have significant consquences. Party's that potentially have to pay spousal support have some additional relief by requesting the seeker of spousal support (alimony) to submit to an examination by a vocational training counselor. This examination may allow the court to impute income to the party seeking spousal support. Imputing income to a party means that the party is earning a certain amount of monthly income even though that parent is not making a dime. Allowing the imputation of income to one party will help reduce or eliminate the obligations on the person being requested to pay spousal support since the court has evidence to rely on by the testimony of the vocational training counselor.

California Family Code Section 4331 states, “In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the parties, the court may order a party to submit to an examination by a vocational training counselor. The examination shall include an assessment of the party's ability to obtain employment based on the party's age, health, education, marketable skills, employment history, and the current availability of employment opportunities. The focus of the examination shall be on an assessment of the party's ability to obtain employment that would allow the party to maintain herself or himself at the marital standard of living.” Although the court could impute income, the court could rule that it is unreasonable for your spouse to work now, based on the specifics of each case, but could consider imputing income in the future. These examinations are not cheap, and the counselors generally charge retainers of several thousand dollars to begin. Testifying in court would only increase the amount that they would need to be paid. However, spending the fees up front in a case could save you years of paying spousal support.

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