If your marriage is ending you may need to return to work. Thankfully, more now than ever, your options for “earning up to your potential” are greater than ever before.
After the 2008 Economic Crisis it became more difficult for divorcing parties to restart their careers after extended absences from the workforce.
More qualified applicants were vying for fewer positions and businesses that were hiring could pay less, get more, and choose the cream of the crop.
The weak economy, qualified applicant pool, and aging work histories of stay-at-home moms made, and continues to make, the prospect of finding a job more difficult. It also led more California Judges to become more open minded about entrepreneurship and self-employment.
In Santa Clara and Marin County California, I’ve seen family law judges allow supported spouses to pursue self-employment and start new businesses instead of seek traditional employment.
In certain cases Judges are giving spouses a level of spousal support and sufficient period of time to start and build a successful business.
Some court orders even provide that a supported spouse can devote all of his or her time to starting a new business without looking for a job simultaneously.
This is huge.
It means that you may be able to use your divorce as a springboard for entrepreneurship or, launching a business of your dreams – a business that allows you to do what you love and love what you do and pay the bills. Genius.
So, how do you get your spouse, partner or Judge on your springboard to entrepreneurship? It depends.
If you will not be receiving or paying child and, or spousal support, you usually do not need anyone’s agreement or authorization to pursue self-employment. You just need to make the leap.
If you are asking for spousal support and, or child support and you are negotiating a settlement agreement with your spouse or partner, you can simply agree that you will be starting a business instead of seeking employment with a third party.
If you and your spouse or partner will be going to court, you can ask the Judge to allow you start a business instead of looking for traditional employment.
In either case you will probably need to provide your spouse, partner or the Judge with enough information to establish that the business you are considering is a viable option that may enable you to become self supporting within a reasonable period of time. The reasonable period of time usually depends on any number of things including, the length of your marriage, your education, training, skills, the ages of your children, if any, your work history, absences from the workforce during marriage to tend to domestic duties.
As an example, if you are a recent graduate who is or will soon to be a licensed psychologist, you can ask the Judge to give you sufficient time and support to open a psychotherapist practice in your chosen field within a specific period of time. You can provide evidence of the average annual earnings in your community for psychotherapists within your field. You also can prepare financial statements that show the standard rate you may charge in light of your education, work history, skills, talents, etc. and your projected earnings. A vocational evaluator or career coach also may provide the court with reliable evidence to show the court how long it should take for you to build a practice sufficient in size to generate the income you need.
As another example, if you have a business that you started before or during marriage (even a hobby business) and you believe that the business may generate sufficient income within a reasonable period of time, you can ask the Judge to allow you to dedicate your time to growing your business instead of looking for a job.
If you are, or may have to pay spousal and/or child support and you want to start a new business instead of working for someone else, you still may be able to do this under certain circumstances – if you and your spouse or partner agree, or a Judge gives you the okay. Getting a Judge’s approval is usually more difficult for the supporting (paying) spouse unless the business is already underway or the idea flushed out and funded.
If you want to start a business but your spouse, partner or a Judge says “No”, can you do it anyway?
In California you probably can but the Judge usually will impute income to you for purposes of calculating support.
If you are the supported spouse this means you may receive less support than you would otherwise receive if you were to look for a job.
If you are the supporting spouse, this means you may have to pay support even though you aren’t actually earning the income that is imputed to you. And if you do not pay the support ordered, the obligation continues, arrears accrue and interest may be charged.
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