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The role of earning capacity in spousal support awards

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2014 | Alimony, Firm News |

At present it is not uncommon for men and woman of varying social and economic demographics to pursue post-secondary and professional degrees. Fifty years ago in California and throughout the rest of the nation it may have been more expected for a wife to stay at home with a couple’s children and for the husband to work than it is now. However, access to education and the expression of women’s rights have changed how people approach learning new trades and earning their incomes.

In some cases individuals graduate from academic programs and immediately begin careers based upon their newly acquired knowledge. Alternatively, some people choose to pursue degrees simply for achieving the accomplishments and then continue or avoid their new fields of expertise. An individual may be content to simply have the knowledge he gained through study without utilizing it in a professional environment.

A person’s educational background can, however, directly impact his potential to secure gainful employment. In that respect, when couples go through divorce the courts hearing their matters may evaluate the ability of an individual to earn a salary based upon his prior educational and professional achievements. This evaluation can look at whether one spouse supported the other through an academic program or whether one spouse gave up a lucrative career in order to focus on family-based commitments.

A scholarly article published in the Missouri Law Review presents an interesting evaluation of the benefits and disadvantages of a court using this type of evaluation for determining if spousal support should be awarded. Please note that the information contained in the cited article as well as that contained in this post is general and therefore should not be relied on as specific legal advice.

The possession or pursuit of an advanced degree can change a person’s capacity to earn a living. To this end, such a degree can influence if a person will be required to pay spousal support to an ex-partner as well as how much the monthly payment for that support should be. Family law attorneys can provide information to individuals interested in learning more about this topic that is both relevant to the jurisdictional and personal specificities of their clients’ unique cases.