Making Reasonable Efforts to Become Self-Supporting (California Alimony)

In a California spousal support case, the court may order one spouse (the supporting spouse) to pay support (alimony) to the other spouse (the supported spouse) for a specified period of time. In addition to awarding alimony, the court will provide the supported spouse with a Gavron Warning. A Gavron Warning is a formal notice issued by the court requiring the supported spouse to become self-supporting. California Family Code section 4330 requires a supported spouse to become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time post-divorce. For marriages of a long duration (more than 10 years), the court may not give the supported spouse a warning to become self-supporting.

(a) In a judgment of dissolution of marriage or legal separation of the parties, the court may order a party to pay for the support of the other party an amount, for a period of time, that the court determines is just and reasonable, based on the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into consideration the circumstances as provided in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 4320).

(b) When making an order for spousal support, the court may advise the recipient of support that the recipient should make reasonable efforts to assist in providing for their support needs, taking into account the particular circumstances considered by the court pursuant to Section 4320, unless, in the case of a marriage of long duration as provided for in Section 4336, the court decides this warning is inadvisable.

Gavron Warning Overview

A Gavron Warning will be issued at the time an alimony award is made. The court must warn the supported spouse of his/her requirement to become self-supporting.  If the supported spouse fails to become self-supporting, the court may impute income to him/her to justify a modification or termination of spousal support. For example, if the supported spouse receives a Gavron Warning and his/her potential earning capacity is $75,000 per year, the court will treat him/her as earning $75,000 per year and compute a new award amount (or terminate alimony all together).

Contact us if you would like more information on how to modify or terminate a spousal support award pursuant to your spouse’s failure to comply with a Gavron Warning. Keep in mind that your case is unique and the information/results provided in this lesson may not occur in your specific case.

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