Part of the divorce process will require both parties to divide the assets acquired during the marriage, and one spouse is often required to support the other after divorce. How long will the support order last? Will the court allow the supported spouse to remain supported for the rest of his or her life? In cases where support is ordered, the court will likely issue a “Gavron Warning” to the supported party. This warning may have a significant impact on the spousal support order, and the supported spouse may risk having income imputed to him/her.
A Gavron Warning is a notice issued by the court to a spouse receiving support that he or she is expected to become self-supporting. Typically, a Gavron Warning will be issued at the time the spousal support order is made. Under certain circumstances, including marriages of long duration, the court may decide that a Gavron Warning is not necessary. Unless the supported spouse has been warned by the court, he or she cannot be penalized for not becoming self-supporting. Once the court issues a Gavron Warning, the court expects the supported spouse to make all reasonable efforts to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.
Courts will aim to issue Gavron Warnings for a reasonable period of time. A reasonable period of time is generally one-half the length of the marriage, except for marriages of long duration (over 10 years). (Fam. Code, § 4320.) However, the Court has discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on other factors and the specific circumstances of the case. Spouses who need further education or training to become employable “will usually need more advance warning than spouses who already possess job skills and only need to find suitable work.” (Marriage of Schmir (2005) 134 Cal.App.4th 43, 48.) If the supported spouse does not make reasonable good faith efforts to become self-supporting, the supported spouse risks having income imputed.
If the court issues a Gavron Warning to the supported spouse, and the supported spouse fails to become self-supporting, the court may treat the supported spouse as if he/she is earning an income within his/her earning capacity, or impute income to the supported spouse. Moreover, the court may use this imputed income to justify a modification or termination of spousal support. For example, if a party receives a warning to become self-supporting, and the party’s earning capacity is $60,000 per year, but the party fails to become self-supporting after receiving a warning, the court will treat the party as if he/she is earning $60,000 and no longer needs the existing amount of spousal support. The court may choose to reduce the spousal support order or terminate it altogether.
If the court issues a Gavron Warning, the court can impute income, and reduce or terminate spousal support if the warned party fails to make reasonable good faith efforts to become self-supporting. Spousal support and divorce are complicated processes, and an attorney can help you navigate through both. If you are seeking help with a Gavron Warning, obtaining spousal support, or divorce, contact one of the experienced attorneys at Lonich Patton Erlich Policastri – we offer free half-hour consultations.
Each individual situation is unique, and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.