Determining each spouse or partner’s gross monthly income earnings from all sources is a significant factor in calculating child support and spousal support in Sacramento.  Unfortunately, in the uncertain economic times, not every spouse or partner is fully employed to the best of their ability.  Some are unemployed, and some are under-employed.  If one party is unemployed or underemployed, the other party could be ordered to pay a higher child support or spousal support payment than they otherwise would if both parties were fully employed.  Predictably, the higher earning party will find this situation frustrating and unfair and wonder what can be done to force the unemployed/underemployed spouse to work according to their abilities.

At first blush it is important for all parties to realize that they both have an obligation to work to the best of their ability to support their children and to improve their own financial station in life. Thus in these situations, the paying spouse should ask the Sacramento child support court to order the underemployed party to seek full-time work in line with their skills, training and experience.  The paying party should ask the Sacramento child support court to order the underemployed party to submit to a vocational evaluation with a vocational counselor.  The vocational counselor will perform an analysis of the underemployed spouse’s income earning potential (skills, abilities, training, education, experience) and the available market opportunities that match that potential.  Until a vocational counselor performs an analysis of the underemployed party’s ability to earn and market opportunities to earn, the court cannot simply guess at past earning income figures and put them into the calculation.  The court is also unwilling to take one spouse’s testimony regarding the other spouse’s former income and simply input it into the guideline support calculator.

The Sacramento child support court is usually willing to order a vocational evaluation so long as the requesting party agrees to pay the cost.  In our opinion this is money well spent because it will provide accountability to the underemployed spouse to get a reasonable job.  If the underemployed spouse won’t obtain a job, and the vocational evaluation demonstrates the underemployed spouse has the ability and opportunity to earn income, the court may use the vocational report and vocational evaluation counselor’s testimony at trial to input an income to the underemployed spouse.

If you are interested in discussing the child or spousal support calculation further, or how to obtain a vocational evaluation to force your spouse or partner to find a job, please give us a call.  We can help you understand the support and vocational evaluation process in a free half-hour attorney consultation.