Everyone knows that divorce involves change, but for some it can mean drastic changes when it comes to employment. In order to reduce unnecessary stress once temporary support orders end and the divorce becomes final, decisions about employment should be made before the final hearing which may include going back to work after divorce.
In some cases, the divorce can signal the time when a homemaker returns to the workforce or needs to acquire skills to land a job. In other cases, a spouse who has worked part-time during the marriage may need to consider a full-time job in order to be more self-supporting.
For those who have worked part-time or not at all during the marriage, an honest assessment of employability and earning capacity should be made during the divorce process. If a spouse needs to obtain special training or education to reach that goal, it may be possible to negotiate temporary “rehabilitative alimony” to help provide an income during the education and training process.
It is important to remember that the Family Court will require a detailed plan for a spouse’s post-divorce education and employability before awarding this rehabilitative support. For example, a homemaker in her fifties who wants to pursue a ten year educational program that leads to a Ph.D. probably will not receive support for that entire time, if at all.
On the other hand, a homemaker who has decided to return to school to pursue an 18-month certificate program to become certified in an area with high employability may satisfy the elements necessary to receive such support in order to get back on her feet.
However, rehabilitative alimony is not always available and has a great deal to do with the couple’s financial health prior to divorce. As many family court judges say, “The Family Court does not print or create money where there is none.” If neither party can afford to support even temporarily more than just themselves, it is highly likely the spouse who must return to work will need to figure out how to cover their own expenses even if they must also return to school.
While the court cannot force someone to work outside the home, the court does have the power to impute income – in other words, design its financial orders based on the assumption that the unemployed or underemployed party has the capacity to earn more income than at present, even if the spouse has never worked before.
The end result of a divorce is to separate the parties and their finances to the greatest extent possible. While long-term spouses or parents may be tied together financially due to alimony and child support, the court will whenever possible separate their dependence on each other. This will almost always require each spouse to assume responsibility for their day-to-day income and expenses.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar either through email or telephone 978-844-4095 to schedule a free one hour no obligation consultation.