Increasing Your Spouse’s Income For Support Purposes
H. Gray Broughton
H. Gray Broughton is an incredibly useful Vocational Expert (VE) in a Virginia divorce case. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Broughton Associates, Incorporated (a Vocational Rehabilitation Company). I turn to Gray for most cases involving earning capacity or income imputation. Whether the opposing party is a stay-at-home mom who claims she “cannot” work or a father who claims economic factors or some nebulous ailment prevents him from finding a job or earning his previous income, Gray will get to the bottom of it. If you are interested in increasing your spouse’s income for support purposes, he’s the man to see. His credentials are excellent (he is the former President of the American Board of Vocational Experts and Board Certified as a Diplomate) and his courtroom demeanor is commanding (he has qualified as an expert in virtually every court in the Commonwealth of Virginia). If you anticipate that your spouse’s employment or earning capacity will be an issue in your divorce, you’ll find Gray quite interesting. My brief interview with him is below. For more information about Gray Broughton, you can call his office at 804-282-4199 or visit him at 6802 Patterson Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23226.
1. Describe the type of work you typically perform in a Virginia divorce case. For example, how do you go about determining whether someone is capable of being gainfully employed?
In a divorce case I am usually asked to give an opinion as to the husband’s, the wife’s (or both) employability, placeability and earning capacity. Employability is the ability to work in specific occupations. The person must have the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) to perform the duties of the job. This addresses the level at which someone can work and depends upon their past work history and experience. Other factors that are taken into consideration are age, education, and Residual Functional Capacity, if they have any physical or mental limitations. Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is defined as what an individual can do in a work setting despite the functional limitations and environmental restrictions imposed by all of his/her medically exertional and non-exertional determinable impairment(s).
Placeability is defined as a person’s potential to be hired and placed within a given job in the local Labor Market and by one’s availability to interview and work.
Earning capacity is defined as the potential of a worker, possessing the KSAs to work and earn money in a competitive Labor Market. The most commonly accepted definitions of earning capacity involve the amount of money a person can earn because of age, education, training, work experience and residual functional capacity.
Usually a request is made for me to interview the person being evaluated in order to conduct a Vocational Diagnostic Interview and if the other side does not agree to the interview, then a court order can be requested requiring that I be allowed to interview them.
After I conduct a Vocational Diagnostic Interview, I determine what the best vocational path for the evaluee is and a Labor Market Search is conducted specific to the individual. The jobs found must be a reasonable distance from their home, must be jobs that are currently available, and the salary for the jobs must be determined. I then prepared a report, which includes my opinions as to the person’s employability, placeability and earning capacity. All of my opinions are to a reasonable degree of vocational certainty.
2. What are the most common excuses you hear from individuals who claim they cannot work? Can you give an example of some of the more interesting reasons or excuses you have heard?
The most common excuses I hear from individuals who claim they cannot work are that in the beginning of the marriage the wife or husband had an agreement that one would look after the children and not be required to work. Another excuse is that “I haven’t worked for 15 years, therefore what can I do?” It is my opinion even if someone hasn’t worked recently and/or has physical or mental limitations that affect their ability to perform full time gainful employment they can still work in some capacity, unless they are severely disabled.
3. Generally, what recommendations would you make to people looking for work? What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people making while hunting for a job?
The recommendations I give to someone who is looking for work includes preparing an accurate and effective resume, networking by contacting friends, acquaintances, and associates in order to get referrals to jobs. This is the most effective way of getting a job. Below are the steps I sometimes put in my report:
(1) Activate his/her network of friends, associates, and other similar acquaintances in business for the purpose of generating employment recommendations and/or employer suggestions;
(2) Prepare a highly focused resume and cover letter and begin seeking employment;
(3) Start contacting organizations and individuals identified on the network list; and,
(4) Find ways to keep up an upbeat, motivated and de-stressed attitude while looking for a job;
(5) Register with several executive recruiting organizations and consider hiring a recruiter / executive search firm;
(6) Get letters of recommendation from his/her previous employers and develop a “strong” list of references;
(7) Contact executive search firms and recruiters and constantly contact potential employers by mail, email and telephone.
Some of these steps apply to some people and some do not. All of my reports and information are specific to the individual I am evaluating.
Some of the biggest mistakes I see from people that are trying to find employment is that their effort is very lackluster. It is my opinion that when someone is unemployed or underemployed, their job each day is to look for suitable and appropriate employment. One can search the internet, we give examples of websites, and also contact employers personally that you know who have the types of job that you would like. They may not have a job when you contact them, but if you send a resume to someone they can let you know when the next job becomes available, this is an excellent way to find employment.
Some of the mistakes I see include a lack of effort, not looking for the right types of jobs, building an ineffective resume, and not being enthusiastic about finding work. One must make a good impression during the initial interview.
4. Can you give the readers some examples of common mistakes either Virginia attorneys or other vocational experts make during contested Virginia divorce trials?
In order for someone to give effective testimony or to perform direct or cross examination, they need to be pleasant and do it in a professional manner. I find that attorneys and VEs that are too combative, not pleasant, show anger, and are sarcastic, are very ineffective. I do not believe most judges like this type of conduct.
Attorneys need to make sure their questions are specific to each opinion that has been given by a vocational expert; each case is different. VEs are required to find jobs in the geographic area in which the person lives for which they have the KSAs to perform, that the jobs are currently available, and the expected salary is listed for each job. Salaries sometimes vary with the person’s experience. An entry level job may pay $40,000 and a person who is experienced may be able to earn $55,000 in the same type of job.
One of the worst mistakes a VE or attorney can earn is to not be realistic as to what someone can earn and for the VE to opine that a person can earn more than is reasonable. I am conservative in my estimates of what a person can earn and usually have a range; but what I think is the reasonable amount may be the midpoint of the range (ex. $30,000 to $50,000 would be $40,000). This is a rule of thumb and not always the case.
Question: What is the best $100 you spent in 2014?
Answer: I spent a lot of $100 in 2014 towards gifts and activities with my five granddaughters and two grandsons. I loved every minute of it! Frankly my favorite thing to do is to spend time with my grandchildren; it is very relaxing and it puts everything in perspective as to what is most important in life.
Question: What is the book or film you’ve given most often as a gift or that has made the largest impact on you?
Answer: Billy Graham’s, Unto the Hills, Daily Devotional: I have used this for the past ten years. This helps me deal with problems in life that I encounter in a kind, loving manner (most of the time). This is as long as I don’t let my impatience or temper get in the way. I have given over 50 of these devotionals to friends in the last few years.
I also enjoy playing golf at least once a week on Sunday afternoon with good friends. I need all the strokes I can get and we harass each other as much as possible.
If you’ve got questions about this expert, feel free to drop me a line. Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran Moher Weis P.C. – firstname.lastname@example.org – 10300 Eaton Place, Suite 520 Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020.