It seems that these days, every time I turn on the news, I hear reports of massive layoffs and market downsizing. Closer to home, many of our clients who once believed they held stable positions are now finding themselves unemployed. While losing your job is never a pleasant event, it can be especially troublesome during your divorce litigation. I offer the following quick tips to continue with an efficient litigation after the loss of your employment:
Full And Complete Disclosure
I understand that it may be embarrassing to inform others of your release. However, it is critically important to disclose your complete situation to your attorney. Your counsel will not be able to advise you of the potential impact your change of employment will have on your matter if they are not filled in to the true and accurate picture.
What do I mean by this? Full disclosure includes the reasons for your release, the amount and details of the severance package and any other positions/offers that may have been offered to you in lieu of your release. If you do not feel comfortable communicating the status of your employment to your spouse, conveying accurate information to your attorney is vital for him/her to forward to opposing counsel.
As you can imagine, ex-spouses are often leery of your loss of employment during a divorce litigation. It is often viewed as a tactic to lower a current or future support payment. In an effort to combat this presumption, it is very important that you document all of your efforts to regain employment. Print out all job postings you have applied to, gather information relating to any job recruiters you may have been in contact with and keep a journal of professional contacts you have utilized to secure a position. While this may seem burdensome, it will save a massive headache if a motion regarding modification/establishment of support is in your future.
Retaining An Employability Expert
With this turbulent job market, it is more difficult than ever to determine a litigant’s true earning potential. Being that underemployment is always a “hot-button” litigation issue in family law, if you are considering taking a lower paying position due to market demand, or you are unemployed and being imputed income at a level which is no longer reasonable, it is probably in your best interest to engage the services of a vocational expert. This expert will be able to gauge the true state of the market and provide you with a certified earnings range that is commensurate with your education and experience. For purposes of litigation, they will produce an expert report and can be called to testify in any potential future litigation. These experts are often worth their weight in gold because I have found that once this expert report is registered, issues regarding support often find a way of getting settled.