Vocational Evaluation Services in California Family Law cases provide specialized information about a person’s employability and wage earning capacity to attorneys, the parties and the courts to help the parties reach a settlement agreement about support. Vocational evaluators use their expertise and training to assess a person’s reasonable career options, future earnings, training resources, costs and duration, and job search steps to obtain employment.

The California Family Law Code 4331 (a) details the requirements of vocational evaluation services, as follows:

"In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the parties, the court may order a party to submit to an examination by a vocational training counselor. The examination shall include an assessment of the party's ability to obtain employment based upon the party's age, health, education, marketable skills, employment history, and the current availability of employment opportunities. The focus of the examination shall be on an assessment of the party's ability to obtain employment that would allow the party to maintain herself or himself at the marital standard of living".


A vocational evaluation may be ordered by the court, requested by one party, or agreed to by both parties. Examples of situations that may prompt a Vocational Evaluation could include the following:

  • Evaluation of a nonworking spouse
  • A spouse claims a medical/psychological condition that may impact vocational choice
  • The impact of work on the custodial parent who has responsibility of a dependent child or adult
  • Assessment of self-employment efforts
  • Evaluation of a spouse’s effort in obtaining/keeping employment
  • Spouse is under a Seek-Work order but is not working after an extended period of time

For more information about the Vocational Evaluation process and how it may be useful in settling your case, please feel free to contact me at 415-250-5781 or lisa@lisatrustin.com



Writing is challenging for many people and creating something personal, like a resume, can be intimidating. Hiring a resume writer can help, but the end result may not sound at all like you.Most people can do a good job writing their own if they think first about what the employer needs to know - who you are, what skills you have to do the job and what you achieved using those skills. When I review resumes, most statements describe responsibilities but they don’t include results or achievements. They’re leaving out the best part!

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"Collaborates with senior management to identify communication issues in HR department".


Great - we know you can talk to senior management but what did that accomplish?

Here's the statement expanded to show achievement:

"Collaborated with senior management to identify communication issues in HR department, conducted 360 interviews with key employees and developed training curriculum to enhance best practice discussions on bi-weekly basis".


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Example of Dispute over Earnings for a Spouse Returning to Work After an Absence

If a spouse has been out of the work force for a period of time, a Vocational Evaluation can help both parties understand a person’s realistic employment prospects and earnings in the current job market.

Vocational experts evaluate a person’s abilities, interests, education, work experience and current labor market conditions to determine in what jobs or careers a person could likely work and what he or she could expect to earn, both immediately and in the long term. In divorce proceedings, information and evaluations from a vocational expert can be requested by attorneys and/or the Court for help in determining spousal and child support payments.

In this example, a husband has a college degree and a contractor’s license and managed a small painting and handyman business before the marriage. Because the wife was a high earner, the couple determined that during the marriage the husband would stay home and raise the children while the wife worked full time.

After more than 10 years of marriage, the wife filed for divorce. The husband, through family connections, was hired in an entry level job as a driver with a construction rental equipment company. The wife felt the husband was capable of higher level employment and wages. A Vocational Evaluation was requested to help determine the employability and wage earning capacity of the husband.

Husband was interviewed to determine his abilities, interests, education and prior work experience. Research about jobs for which he could qualify and the labor market conditions in related industries at the time of the evaluation was conducted. His interests, prior work experience and skills in the construction trades were valuable and relevant. However, husband had not worked for 10 years and employer interviews revealed that he was not considered a competitive candidate for most jobs in related fields in a tight labor market. His current position as a driver, although entry level, was secure and showed promise for internal promotion and higher wages in the future. It was determined that he was working in a reasonable position as a driver and was earning at an acceptable capacity for someone returning to the job market after a significant absence.