As an expert witness retained to determine an individual’s earning capacity, a Vocational Expert will prepare a report based upon a foundation of scientific principles relevant to vocational standards. These standards include; an analysis of the documentation listed, test selection, administration, and an analysis of test findings. A review and application of vocational literature will be conducted and an “expert” opinion consistent with and based upon the combination and analysis of the information collected will be generated.
The Vocational Expert will apply methodology that is commonplace in the field and that has been peer reviewed, using sources that are commonly relied upon by Vocational Experts, career, and rehabilitation professionals. This methodology includes the following steps:
The following tests will commonly be utilized by a Vocational Expert:
The Academic Achievement Battery (AAB) measures basic academic skills including letter and word reading, and mathematical calculation.
The Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence-2 (WASI-2) is an I.Q. assessment and includes scales measuring memory and abstract reasoning amongst other skills. The test provides a full scale intellectual score.
The Career Ability Placement Survey (CAPS) is an individually administered test with 8 parts. Each part is timed. Each part measures a different aptitude and is scored in stanines. Stanines are a nine-point standard scale. The raw scores are transformed into a stanine from one to nine so comparisons between the different aptitudes can be compared without distortion. The 8 parts include: Mechanical Reasoning (MR), Spatial Reasoning (SR), Verbal Reasoning (VR), Numerical Ability (NA), language Usage (LU), Word knowledge (WK), Perceptual Speed and Accuracy (PSA), and Mechanical Speed and Dexterity (MSD).
The Validity Indicator Profile (VIP) is used to determine if the individual being assessed is compliant with test instructions and if he/she tried his best. A person's test performance is found to be valid or invalid by an analysis of Primary Validity Indicators. The Primary Validity Indicators are: Consistency Ratio, Conformity Index, Individual Consistency Index, Score by Correlation, Slope by Consistency Ratio, and Curvature.
Understanding how a vocational assessment will be conducted is an important first step in determine whether to retain and use this type of expert witness as part of divorce litigation.
A qualified Vocational Expert can provide an opinion in a variety of areas of vocational rehabilitation, vocational and earning capacity, lost earnings, cost of replacement labor and lost ability/time in performing household services.
In a divorce, a Vocational Expert will be hired by one spouse to prepare a report based upon a foundation of scientific principles relevant to vocational standards. These standards include; an analysis of income and employment documentation, test selection, administration, and the analysis of test findings. The end result of the Vocational Expert’s analysis will be an expert opinion of a spouse’s earning capacity.
You may be reluctant to add the cost of an expert witness to your mounting divorce costs. However, under the right circumstances, a Vocational Expert can save you significant money in the long run. For example, if your spouse is responsible for child support and/or spousal support but claims a sudden inability to work or reduction of wages, a Vocational Expert can provide an unbiased assessment of your spouse’s true earning ability. It is not unheard of for a spouse to intentionally reduce income to keep support obligations low, especially in instances where the spouse is self-employed.
If you are involved in a divorce in Warren County, Butler County, or any Ohio county, where one spouse has recently experienced a significant reduction in income, a Vocational Expert’s analysis will show the Judge what the spouse should be earning. Then, the Judge can impute or assign the additional income to that spouse. The resulting child support and/or spousal support determinations will be based on imputed wages, rather than actual, reduced earnings.
Done correctly, a Vocational Expert’s opinion can be highly persuasive in negotiations, during mediation and if necessary, at trial.
Attorneys Jesse Bowman; Max Kinman; Chris Alexander: David Wagner